Now that the comment period has closed on the Navy’s plan to bring 35 new Growlers to Whidbey Island, our community deserves to understand the issues unearthed through careful citizen research. The comments were directed at protecting our local economy, culture and citizens, not at closing Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, nor disparaging our military nor preventing jet pilots from adequate training.
1. Increased jet noise will force some organic farms out of business. Tourism in Coupeville and parks may diminish. Outdoor recreation is already affected.
2. The firefighting foam the Navy uses has contaminated wells near OLF above EPA safe limits, but the Navy will not dispose of their stockpile, and increased flights increase the risk of further contamination.
3. The federal government only compensates Oak Harbor schools at 20 percent of the cost of educating Navy attached children; with the expansion, taxpayers will be on the hook and schools crowded.
4. The cherished privilege of not paying taxes for those who shop or live on the base robs Island County coffers of nearly $6 million a year, yet Navy personnel use taxpayer funded services and infrastructure.
5. The Navy will not build more base housing, considering there is enough housing within 100 mile radius. Affordable housing is already scarce on Whidbey. More commuters will tax our two-lane bridge and ferries.
6. Real estate values under the Growler flight path have gone down by $10 million compared to comparable island properties.
7. Medical experts and the State Health Board agree (though not yet the courts) that jet noise at the level measured on the ground stresses internal organs and can cause heath harms.
These economic, health and infrastructure stresses will affect all of us — tourists, children and taxpayers. Thousands believe the solution is to move the expanded training to another military base.