Clinton man Steve Gutzmer wrote in a recent letter to the editor that the projected Navy influx to Whidbey is a boon. From his quiet armchair, drinking clean water, the patriotic concept of Navy fighters training on Whidbey sounds uplifting. I live in quiet Langley. Several of my friends in and around Coupeville live right under the Growler-buzzsaw flightpaths and it ain’t pretty.
Quiet-dwelling Gutzmer: “The Growler is much quieter than the Prowler.” Simply wrong. Even the Navy insists they are equal, yet downplays their huge “sound spectrum” difference. Reputable Wiley Labs asserts Growler “low frequency sound pressure levels” dwarf that of Prowlers. Translated: they “rumble your insides” (your house too). Many Coupevillians signed early mortgages, tolerated the Prowlers, but find Growlers a whole new animal. Sure, a jackhammer-volumed jet roar (100+ dB) at 200-400 feet over your roof loses its thrill 40-80 times a day, three times a week, nights included. Then it’s PTSD hell. (The Navy wants 100/day, four-plus days/week!) Frazzled, anxious, and sleepless with heart, blood pressure, and organ issues, their animals act weird, their children cower in adult laps, hands on ears. Not a “boon.”
Gutzmer: “then simply move.” There’s no “simply.” Flight-lane property values spiral downward; other properties (yours Mr. Gutzmer?) are dramatically up. Sell at a loss and move? Try it! Some are worse off; wells recently testing high in cancerous PFOS (fire foam) chemicals leached from a polluted well at Outlying Field Coupeville.
Gutzmer: “the Navy brings more students; increases tax base.” Reality: crowded Oak Harbor School District now has huge yearly deficits as military families on government land, buying at the commissary, pay miniscule local taxes. The Navy skimps on paying “compensation” to Oak Harbor. Navy “immigrants” use our infrastructure and public services supported by our taxes. Now Navy personnel crowding is already raising rents over much of the island.
Am I “Navy, go away?” No. “Be a better neighbor?” Yes. “Training flights elsewhere?” Yes. Suitable alternatives on vast Washington, California and Nevada Navy-owned lands are already used for overflow flights. The Navy knows it’s inserting a humongous training foot into a petite Whidbey shoe, at citizens’ expense. The very real risk factors for a catastrophic crash, don’t get me started on all the factors! Unsolved cockpit oxygen issues still haunt. Twenty-two Growlers and F-18E/F cousins have already crashed elsewhere. No boon, sir!