Meeting set for Growler impact on historic sites

A federal agency will be holding a public meeting on Whidbey Island Dec. 19 to gather comments on the impact an increase of Navy EA-18 Growlers aircraft and operations will have on historic properties.

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation’s meeting will take place from 5-7 p.m., but a location is yet to be determined.

The Navy terminated consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act Nov. 30 after an agreement on mitigation could not be reached with consulting parties.

Timelines established by the Navy and the U.S. Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014 “further complicated this consultation,” according to a press release from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, or ACHP.

Meanwhile, negotiations between the Navy and interested parties continue outside of the Section 106 process.

“The Navy isn’t quitting or abandoning the people of Coupeville, Ebey’s Reserve, or any other part of this island or this state,” wrote Mike Welding, public affairs officer for Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. “We live and work here. We are part of the community.”

Secretary of the Navy has yet to announce a final decision on the number of Growlers at NAS Whidbey Island and distribution of training flights between the Ault Field base and Outlying Field Coupeville.

The Navy previously determined that increased flights would have an effect on historic property in Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve, which is adjacent to OLF Coupeville.

According to the press release, the ACHP has 45 days to provide comments to the Secretary of the Navy, which would be no later than Jan. 14, 2019.

“The ACHP will take into account the views of the public as it forms its own comments to the secretary on the undertaking and its effects on historic properties,” the press release states.

Because of the high level of public interest in the issue, the ACHP is placing some controls on the meeting.

Priority for speaking will be given 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.

People interested in registering to speak, or submit written comment, can send an email to achp@achp.gov, send a fax to 202-517-6381 or mail a letter to Katharine R. Kerr, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, 401 F Street, NW, Suite 308, Washington, DC 20001-2637.

All comments submitted by 5 p.m. EST, Jan. 3, 2019 will be part of the public record and reviewed by the ACHP prior to the finalization and transmittal of its formal comments to the Secretary of the Navy.

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