Opinion

Community forum set on OLF noise issues | Letters

Editor,

Many citizens in the Central Whidbey community have voiced distress from the type of planes using Outlying Field (OLF) Coupeville.

We have heard from long time residents, small businesses and farmers who support the Navy’s mission, but are experiencing a level of impact with the transition to the E-18 Growler planes.

Out of respect for these citizen concerns we began discussions last year with Whidbey Island Naval Air Station leadership.

We have encouraged the base to improve its communication with the community. As a result, the base has begun issuing public notices of its practice flight schedule at OLF as well as summer dates when there will be no flights due to field repairs.

Base officials agreed to create a fact sheet about flight patterns and other operational information. For us, this was just a first step.

On Wednesday, May 15  we attended a meeting of local, state and federal representatives with base Commander Capt. Nortier and Rear Adm. Rich, commander Navy Region Northwest.

The OLF flights were discussed and Rear Adm. Rich spoke about his awareness of the noise impacts to Central Whidbey and his willingness to explore strategies to address the needs of the community.

Other elected officials have been helpful in these efforts.

Congressman Rick Larsen’s office has contacted the head of Naval Aviation at the Department of the Navy to discuss technical solutions to reduce noise effects from the E-18 Growler. These may include equipment modifications, flight pattern alternatives or changes to take-off profiles.

Communication between the community and Whidbey Island Naval Air Station is vital in finding a way to meet the needs of our local residents and businesses as well as support the Navy’s need to train pilots being deployed to defend our country.

By increasing the dialogue we can come together to reduce the negative impacts of base operations on our community.

Please join us for an OLF community forum with elected officials 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, June 19 at the Coupeville Rec Hall.

Nancy Conard, Coupeville mayor

Helen Price Johnson, Island County commissioner

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