Big crowd anticipated for historic properties meeting

There might be a big, and possibly loud, turnout for a public meetingWednesday, Dec. 19, regarding the effect of Navy jet noise on historic properties in Central Whidbey.

The federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, or ACHP, is holding a meeting to collect public input on how a proposed increase of EA-18G Growlers at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and training flights at Outlying Field Coupeville will affect adjacent Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.

The meeting is 5-7 p.m. at the Coupeville High School performing arts center.

The meeting is in response to the Navy terminating consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act on Nov. 30. As a result of the action, the ACHP is providing an opportunity to agency officials, all consulting parties and the public to provide their views.

The Sound Defense Alliance has been asking members and community members to attend the event, calling the meeting “a rare public hearing on the long-planned massive expansion of the Growler jet program and its impact to Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve and our region,” according to a press release.

The press release describes the group as “a new voice in Washington working to protect our communities and natural environment from harmful and unnecessary impacts of military activity around Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula.”

In written comments, an ACHP spokesperson said the purpose of the meeting “is to obtain input on the effects of the proposed increase in aircraft and aircraft operations on historic properties and any possible steps that could be taken to address historic preservation issues.

“Testimony regarding issues beyond this limited scope is not germane to the ACHP’s deliberations,” the ACHP statement said.

The ACHP has until Jan. 14 to submit its comments on mitigation measures to the secretary of the Navy, according to a statement from an ACHP spokeswoman. It’s “not common” but also “not unusual” for the ACHP to host a public meeting after an agency has terminated consultation and requested ACHP comments, according to the comments.

Priority for speaking at the public meeting will be given first to the Department of the Navy, the Washington State Historic Preservation Office and consulting parties, then to those who notify the ACHP of their desire to speak in advance of the meeting.

Other speakers will be taken in order of registration, and each will have prescribed time limits.

People can email WhidbeyIslandComment@achp.gov, fax 202-517-6381 or send mail to Katharine R. Kerr, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, 401 F Street, N.W., Suite 308, Washington, D.C. 20001-2637.

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