Opinion

Editorial: New squadron welcome here

Oak Harbor economic development boosters have been hoping for months that a squadron from Rota, Spain would be moved to Whidbey, and it finally happened last week.

Whidbey’s Rota rooters were thrilled to hear that more P-3 and Aries II reconnaissance planes with officers and crews totaling nearly 500, accompanied by some 500 family members, will soon be on their way. The move seemingly assures that Whidbey Island Naval Air Station will be a bustling enterprise for years to come. This is great news in an era when other military communities are worrying about their bases being closed.

Local businesses are looking forward to the additional payroll of $38.8 million annually, and local governments are expecting increased revenues from sales and others taxes the newcomers will be paying.

We suspect those who are part of VQ-2 will be thrilled to be based at Whidbey, back in the U.S.A. and surrounded by natural beauty and a supportive community.

The base and local schools can readily absorb the new people, but the same may not be true of the housing market. Relatively few affordable homes are available on Whidbey Island, which is a problem not just for the military, but for other families of low to medium income. The arrival of the Rota squadron should give local officials added impetus to deal with our affordable housing shortage.

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