Coupeville Community Allies is not surprised at at the Navy’s press release today. In it, they declare their preferred alternative for the Growler Expansion, 2 months ahead of the publication of their final Environmental Impact Statement. The Navy's press release is here.
The Navy proposes 23,700 of these views for Coupeville
The Navy's Preferred Alternative
The Navy is saying they will choose Alternative 2, Scenario A. Under this scenario, 80% of the total field carrier landing practices (FCLPs) would take place at Outlying Field Coupeville, for a total of 23,700 total FCLP operations.
While the 24K operations at OLF are a decrease from the initial EIS proposal, due to the Navy’s new landing software and reduced number of pilots per squadron – don’t be fooled. This is no decrease. 23,700 operations is a 4-fold increase over the current levels of 6,100 that is the current maximum at OLF. The Navy had said in its draft EIS that its first choice was to move 100% of FCLPs to Coupeville, so this is really no surprise.
And while Ault Field will also be seeing more flights, very few of them will be the low-level, loud FCLPs. The impacts are not equivalent. If you live between Ault Field and OLF in the Interfacility Traffic Area, you will be seeing four times as much traffic as you do now.
Coupeville Community Allies is disappointed that the Navy did not take into account the 4,335 comments submitted on its draft EIS regarding the significant economic impact their proposed operational increases would have on Central Whidbey and to Island County in general.
Alternative 2, Scenario A will require the establishment of at least one accident potential zone (APZ) for safety - area to be determined - due to the predominance of the operations being on the Western pattern around OLF. The Navy is asking us to make a permanent land use decision for a temporary need of theirs – as we know that in the next several years Growlers will give way to drone aircraft. And this land use decision has tax implications for all residents of Island County. The decreased valuation in affected properties will cause taxes on non-affected properties - even those on Camano Island - to increase.
As you know from following our work, an increase in operations at the OLF will have a profound and negative effect on the economy of Central Whidbey, which is based predominantly on tourism and agriculture. If this proposal comes to pass, we would have to sacrifice our economy for our safety – a terrible bargain to have to make in any community.
What action do we take?
The Navy’s preferred alternative is NOT the final decision in this matter. (In fact, they were supposed to include a preferred alternative in the draft EIS but did not). Here they are simply stating what outcome they would prefer.
The Secretary of the Navy will make the final decision no earlier than 30 days after the final EIS is published. The Navy is stating a September date for publishing the EIS.
The time to act is now as our Federal elected officials and our Governor can work with the Secretary of the Navy to craft a more humane solution.
CCA asks you to do the following:
Action #1: Call or email your Federal elected officials and the Governor immediately, then daily or several times a week.
Keep this issue at the forefront. Ask for their help in stopping the expansion of Navy operations at OLF Coupeville. Request that they site new Growlers at a second location, which is better from a national security perspective and mitigates the economic and environmental impacts. Talk about the issues that matter to you – whether it’s land use, economy, national security, safety, housing or a number of other impacts this proposal would have on our community.
Try texting with Resistbot if you haven’t yet. It takes 2 minutes to contact all Federal electeds or the Governor. https://resist.bot/
Action #2: Learn more - Engage your friends and community - CCA will help.
CCA will come to your community groups or organizations to provide information on the effects of the Navy’s proposed expansion and answer any question, all based on referenced documentation.
Accident potential zones and downzoning; loss of tax revenue and increase of taxes collected on non-affected properties. Fact sheet here.
The security risks of single siting all Growler aircraft on Whidbey. Fact sheet here.
The inadequacies and safety issues with OLF Coupeville that make it unsafe for aviators and for residents. Fact sheet here.
The impact on housing in our community when the proposal will bring over 600 new personnel to Whidbey where housing vacancy rates are <1%.
The Navy has ignored the community’s input on this Expansion. It is time to take the matter to our Congressman, Senators and Governor. If we do not stand up, the expansion will decimate the economy of Central Whidbey.
Please take the time to call and write and keep up the pressure.