Alliance against Growler expansion ‘not going away’

“Persistently advocating against all odds” is the theme of a campaign by the Sound Defense Alliance and its supporters opposed to increased Growler activity in Central Whidbey.

The group held an “action fair and update” last Thursday at Coupeville High School.

Sound Defense Alliance is a coalition of individuals and other activist groups that oppose the Navy’s plans to expand the number of EA-18G Growlers at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and increase the number of training flights at Outlying Field Coupeville by almost 370 percent.

The final decision, to be made by the Secretary of the Navy or his designee, is expected to be released within a couple of weeks.

Approximately 165 people attended Thursday night’s event, which included information about the expected impacts of the expansion on Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, on the Town of Coupeville and the potential establishment of Accident Potential Zones around the outlying field.

Diana Eelkema, of Coupeville, said she came because she lives in the flight zone.

“The noise is unbearable,” she said. “I think (the increase is) going to affect our property values and our health.”

Booths around the room provided materials and information to allow attendees to write letters and postcards to elected officials and letters to the editor.

One letter stood out among the crowd. Addressed to U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, a large piece of butcher paper was hung on the wall and in large letters it both thanked him for his effort on the issue and asked for more.

“He really moved on this issue,” said Valerie Reuther, one of the event organizers. “… But it’s not enough.”

Larsen recently wrote a letter to Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer with his concerns over the Growler plans. He recommended a reduction from its proposed increase at OLF Coupeville and distributing more of the field carrier landing practice operations at Ault Field.

Navy officials have said the outlying field offers the most realistic training conditions for landing on an aircraft carrier. Officials have also said other types of operations will increase at Ault Field and the majority of flights will still occur on North Whidbey.

Reuther said any increase will create too much hardship on the rural area.

“This is one of the last wild places on the planet and the Navy’s trying to turn it into some place that’s uninhabitable for wildlife and people.”

At last week’s event, Reuther and others spoke about potential impacts, but they all had a similar message. Reuther urged those present to continue to speak out, to gather and to write.

“We’re not going away,” she said.

“We’re here to fight for our homes, our businesses and this region.”

More in News

Sand build-up leads to closure of Mutiny Bay boat ramp

The boat launch at Mutiny Bay will remain closed due to sand… Continue reading

Lions member building birdhouses to help food bank

A South Whidbey man is using his time at home constructively by… Continue reading

South Whidbey registering kindergarteners for 2020-21

Our goal is to register all prospective kindergarten students as soon as… Continue reading

Clinton walk-in clinic set to open June 2

A new Clinton walk-in clinic is slated to open June 2 and… Continue reading

Restaurants, retail and other businesses in Island County can reopen under variance

Restaurants can serve people at tables inside, stylists can start cutting hair,… Continue reading

Coupeville Memorial Day parade cancelled, but other recognitions planned for Central Whidbey

Coupeville’s annual Memorial Day parade is cancelled, but the Coupeville Chamber of… Continue reading

Car destroyed by fire

Photo by West Coast Fire Media-Bryan Fick Nobody was injured in a… Continue reading

Greenbank man accused of raping unconscious woman

A 36-year-old Greenbank man is in jail after he was allegedly caught… Continue reading

Langley sees crime spike in last 2 months

Property crimes have been on the rise in Langley for the last… Continue reading

Most Read