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Island Transit facility wrongly placed
Why were Congressman Rick Larsen, Island County Commissioner Angie Homola and Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson celebrating the groundbreaking of Island Transit’s construction project?
This government-sponsored project unarguably encroaches upon NAS Whidbey Island airfield facility Outlying Field (OLF) Coupeville. Ironically, this groundbreaking occurred less than a week after an F/A-18 crashed near NAS Oceana inside the boundaries of an established Accident Potential Zone (APZ), coinciding with people living near Oceana demanding state and federal dollars to expand safety buffers around local military air stations.
Island County long ago should have created an APZ around OLF Coupeville just like they did at Ault Field in Oak Harbor. Their failure to do so secured $17.92 million in federal funding under false pretenses for Island Transit, while, in 2009, Island Transit misled Island County taxpayers about plans to use millions in local sales taxes for this facility when Island Transit instead campaigned for increased sales tax revenues primarily for expanded bus service, which has not materialized.
A recent Whidbey News-Times article described the planned facility as a “51,000-square-foot transit center on Central Whidbey Island (which) will eventually include 33,600 square feet for vehicle maintenance with 12 bus bays, 15,000 square feet for administration and public meeting space, and 3,000 square feet for bus washing and a refueling facility.” That doesn’t sound like something that well-informed people in Island County would spend their money to locate near or beneath a military aircraft landing pattern, but it’s apparently something to celebrate for some politicians.