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PUBLISHER'S COLUMN | Lawsuit is unlikely to result in winner
The filing of a lawsuit last week in Federal Court by the Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve for a Healthy, Safe and Peaceful Environment was akin tossing a firecracker into a hornet’s nest.
The citizens group says it was their last ditch effort after the Navy failed to respond to its concerns about the effects of jet noise from touch-and-go landings at Outlying Field Coupeville that lead to filing the lawsuit.
The group is asking the court to require the Navy conduct an environmental impact statement. Members of the group maintain the Growler jets that use the field are significantly louder than their predecessor, the Prowler. They also claim the number of practices is far higher than the Navy projected.
Named as parties in the lawsuit, along with the Navy, are the base commander, Capt. Mike Nortier, and Adm. Bill Gortney, Commander Fleet Forces Command.
Including the two commanders in the lawsuit would seem to be rubbing salt in the wounds.
Meanwhile, as it has all along, the Navy is declining to talk.
This silence hasn’t helped. The anti-OLF group says filing the lawsuit was the only way to get the Navy’s attention.
Navy supporters are infuriated by the lawsuit and are determined to get the attention of Central Whidbey residents by punishing them however possible.
Many who live on North Whidbey are either active military, retired military or their livelihoods are dependent on the military. Some are feeling their livelihoods are threatened, if not the entire North Whidbey economy.
My grandfather was a World War II veteran who survived Pearl Harbor and retired from the Navy. He and my grandmother always had the roar of jets overhead, first while living on Goldie Road, later on Monkey Hill Road.
The “Sound of Freedom” sign meant something to them. Growing up, I learned to understand what it meant as well, and I appreciate the role of the Navy and understand the need for flyers to practice carrier landings at OLF Coupeville.
I also don’t live under a flight path by choice. And while I don’t have anything other than personal experience to go by, the Growlers do seem to be louder than their predecessor.
This lawsuit is unfortunate, especially since there was never any real direct discussion between the parties.
There was never any substantial effort to see if a compromise is even possible.
It’s sad that the cold war between North and Central Whidbey is growing, and that it it may get worse before it gets better.
As is the nature of lawsuits, there will probably be no winners, regardless of the outcome.
• Keven R. Graves is executive editor and publisher of the Whidbey News-Times, Coupeville Examiner and South Whidbey Record. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org