Navy’s Walkout Leads to Advisory Council Review and Angry Regional Response

Published by SDAOrganizer on

For Immediate Release 
Contact: Maryon Attwood, Chair, Sound Defense Alliance, 360-678-1414, maryon@whidbey.net

Navy’s Walkout Leads to Advisory Council Review and Angry Regional Response

People from Skagit, Jefferson, Clallam and Island Counties showed up in force one week before Christmas to support local historic treasures that will be impacted by the Navy’s massive expansion of Growler jet flights and operations in Northwest Washington.

The Navy walked away from the Section 106 process at the end of November, triggering the review by the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation (ACHP). On December 19th, over 400 people showed up in Coupeville, WA to speak out, to the ACHP for protection of the nation’s historic properties, such as Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve where the Navy has admitted that there will be significant impacts caused by noise as a result of the proposed Growler jet expansion at NAS Whidbey Island.

Regional elected leaders explained their frustration to ACHP staff members in having spent over five years making suggestions to the military and having those suggestions ignored.

Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson emphasized what was a theme of the public meeting --- that the boundaries of the Area of Potential Effects (APE) should extend beyond what is currently defined by the Navy to include additional historic properties. Port Townsend Council member, Michelle Sandoval, focused on the Navy's modeled averaged sound measurements that have left Port Townsend’s historic properties out of the area of effect (APE): “Port Townsend feels like they don't count,” she said and asked that the area of study include the 40 separate Port Townsend properties listed on the National Historic Register.

Maryon Attwood, one of the speakers and chairperson of the Sound Defense Alliance, commented on the huge turnout for the meeting. “In almost six years of making thousands of suggestions to the Navy about how to have less impact on Northwest Washington, providing them with reasonable alternatives, suggesting operational mitigations, and engaging our elected leaders to take our messages to the military – the Department of Defense has remained deaf to us all.” Attwood continued, what started out as a few concerned citizens has turned into a growing movement troubled by a Department of Defense that is out of touch with the people it is defending. That’s why almost 400 people showed up to share what’s happened here - the communities of Northwest Washington do not feel heard. People here are not willing to be collateral damage to a military expansion that’s too big and too impactful on everything that resides here,” concluded Attwood.

Dr. Allyson Brooks, State Historic Preservation Officer, received the most enthusiastic cheers of the evening for firmly clarifying timelines and details of recent mitigation talks with the Navy. Brooks pointed out that she has worked successfully with many other federal agencies to reach agreements on projects that affect historic areas. “The same law that applies to all the other Federal agencies, should apply to the Navy,” stated Brooks.

Various members of the community, including the Mayor of Coupeville, Molly Hughes, repeated the message that “no amount of money can mitigate the damage.” Farmers, architects, authors, small business owners, spoke to the potential harm of the Growler jet increase and the alternatives available to the military. Some of these included the proposed Area of noise impact (APE) that’s too narrow; that our communities won't sacrifice national historical treasures for uncompromising military warfare training that could be elsewhere; and that operational mitigations are a solution.

Only 3 speakers in over two hours of comments spoke in favor of the Navy’s expansion plans. “No new jets and no new flights is the only honest and sustainable solution,” concluded Bob Wilbur one of the many who spoke at the meeting.

The Advisory Council has a 45-day window to review and make recommendations to the Secretary of the Navy prior to publication of the Navy’s Record of Decision on the Growler jet expansion. This countdown of days will be stopped by the government shutdown and will resume when the government shutdown ends. Written comments to the ACHP re encouraged and will be accepted through Thursday, January 3rd, 2019 5PM EDT. Whidbeyislandcomment@achp.gov.

For more information about the Sound Defense Alliance and the 'No New Jets. No New Flights.' campaign go to: www.sounddefensealliance.org.
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