Testy retort letter about Whidbey airfield was inaccurate

Editor,

I’m answering Pete Becker’s testy retort to me about Whidbey’s Growler problem. He had some serious misreadings and inaccuracies. Example: “OLF was built…[74 years ago] to efficiently and safely conduct carrier landing practice.” Reality: The field was made in WWII for small propeller-driven fighters to just land. After WWII was a period of dormancy. It was reactivated in the late 1960s to mimic an aircraft carrier for “flight carrier landing practice (FCLP).”

Its ancient surface is dangerously below standard for heavier fighters. Its length (5,280 feet) is 3,000 feet below standards, with civilian-inhabited “crash zones” at its ends, begging for a deadly incident. Just 700 clear acres around it is one-fortieth or 2.3 percent of the currently mandated 30,000 clear acres for any new FCLP field. But, Becker thinks “required level of performance” can only occur at this crowded, unsafe field. In fact, two years ago the Navy halted all FCLPs at OLF for 13 months and moved them to California/Nevada. Currently, it has halted all ops at OLF for a number of months (but doing them elsewhere) while water testing for its other deadly problem: extensive toxic pollutants from an OLF well site that have trashed civilian wells.

He also missed all my points on why the Navy isn’t the money pump for Whidbey he thinks it is. I can’t repeat all that here, except perhaps examples like how many Navy families take state food stamps, use Whidbey health programs, and use roads they don’t pay to upkeep. And if only, Mr. Becker, the Navy kept its “$5,000 for students of military” impact-aid agreement of 1950 (that would be $50,111 in today’s dollars per student!). But no, times change, so now the struggling Oak Harbor school district’s budget shows impact aid is now just $155 per student of military (and payments are always paid one year-plus late). And get this: it is now paid by the U.S. Department of Education, not the Navy, which pays zero.

Finally, Becker didn’t acknowledge my explanation of why it is a financial disaster for land-depreciated noise-hounded residents to “give away” a home and seek new expensive housing elsewhere. He just says “Move!” (After all, it’s simple in Clinton so must be simple there.)

MARK WAHL

Langley

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