Letter: Whidbey Island too divided over Growler training in Coupeville

Editor,

When I lived in Spain 50 years ago, my host family told me this about the Spanish Civil War: rural villages in the 1930s were so isolated that word of the war came to them long after it started. Instead of joining the war, though, villagers used the news to unleash long-simmering hostilities between neighbors.

They grabbed their guns and turned on one another.

Our national politics has become a terrible uncivil war of words, but let’s be sure we here don’t grab the swords of insults and slice one another to pieces.

Nothing splits this island like the debate over the expansion of the Growler jet pilot training. A regional coalition, the Sound Defense Alliance, says: No New Jets. No New Flights. They have good reason, actually documented in the Navy’s own Environmental Impact Statement that proposes increases in operations and geographic impact.

Exposed to frequent loud jet noise, children’s ability to learn suffers and the effects persist for years. Not just liberal children, often called snowflakes or worse, but all children, whatever their parents’ politics. The four-fold increase in jet flights at the Outlying Field will also trigger down-zoning, affecting all businesses and homes and developable land in a large oval around the outlying field.

Tourists will flee, affecting all businesses that rely on swarms of visitors to the island. It’s predicted that property values will go down. The tax burden on the rest of the county will go up. Not just loony liberals’ taxes, businesses and homes. Everyone’s.

If the Sound Defense Alliance gets what it wants — that additional jets and flights are sent to a suitable base far from national historic parks and reserves, far from tourist destinations, far from neighborhoods and schools — I highly doubt they will gloat, calling the more-jets, more-flights supporters fanatics and bigots. They will feel an immense relief — for all of us.

People assume the SDA is anti-Navy. It is not. They are opposed to how deaf the Department of Defense is to the harm the out-sized increase of jet noise will impose on Whidbey, Lopez, the Olympic Peninsula and environs. The Alliance has a long-term, reasonable plan for reducing the burden of jet noise here while protecting NAS Whidbey and all their neighbors.

Call them snowflakes if you must, but take to heart the lesson of the Spanish Civil War. We don’t want the island we all love sucked into a mud-slinging uncivil war of words.

Vicki Robin

Langley

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