Our island is divided.
All of the sudden the idilic, peaceful Whidbey Island that we know and call home is all over the news and heating up debates among young and old, Democrats and Republicans. A small group of concerned citizens living in the middle of the island, in the charming town of Coupeville are suing Naval Air Station Whidbey and it’s Commander. They claim the noise that jets make during night training in and out of Outlying field that is close to their homes is unbearable and more that Navy anticipated. So much so they chose to found an independent study and file a lawsuit in Federal court.
Nothing can be worse and more unpatriotic then complaining against our Armed forces. Looking from a simple and emotional point of view saying that our brave men and women should go into battle without proper training on how to land jets on aircraft carriers in the middle of the night is selfish and rude to say the least. I am the first one to agree they are loud and I do believe the concerned citizens that it makes their daily lives and their livestock uncomfortable. One can easily choose to support either side of the story and argue it passionately until the bitter end. And so far seeing that our island is mostly inhibited by Navy families and those who’s livelihood depends on Naval Air Base and it’s future on Whidbey Island the support for a few who choose to sue is non existent.
As a Navy wife my logical respond would be: Base has been here longer then most of the houses of people who are suing. We all sign acknowledgement that we are buying property in a flight path and it’s expected noise level. Let them fly, if you don’t like it-MOVE.
As a passionate advocate for supporting local farmers that are living on Ebey’s Landing I might say: let the local business grow and go back to natural, sustainable farming which clearly does not include noise pollution.
But as much as my gut agrees with the Navy wife stands and my passion for eating locally and supporting the farmers will not subside I am appalled by all. Because everybody supporting the Navy is now boycotting local business south of our town and our favorite pizza place is counting empty tables. Because the few silly locals who got pumped to support this lawsuit will be the most hated neighbors for years to come. Because the genius that decided to print T-shirts saying “Close OFL” and “Save OLF” will make a fortune. And when all is said and done this lawsuit will take it’s course regardless of what people say and think and how many heated comments are left on Facebook regarding it.
Ultimately this is all money based. Whenever someone chooses to sue a large entity there is money to be made. No matter how right of wrong the Citizens of the Ebey’s Reserve for a Healthy, Safe & Peaceful Environment are, at some point or the other a settlement will be made. Some lands will be bought out at a larger then market price, someone will get to build a development there in years from now and sell it at a premium, something that we have no idea about will come out of this.
And my pregnant friend who is kissing her pilot husband goodbye as he deploys will sleep restlessly hoping that he clocked enough hours of night landings before runway was closed. My friend who has the best restaurant on the island will worry how to support his family as his business declines. We will all rally up in town with signs and protest instead of going for a hike this Saturday. There will be rude exchanges and things being said in haste but in the end it really isn’t about us.
My five year old son asked me a few weeks ago at Farmer’s Market what they are selling at the stand called ‘
OLF‘. I told him to to go and ask them. They politely explained to him they mind the jet engine noise and are trying to make it go away. He looked at them puzzled and said ‘They are noisy for sure. But you don’t want my Daddy to go away, do you?’
My only wish is to see the bigger picture. That we will be neighbors for generations to come, that Navy pilots will fly for our freedom for generations to come, that life will go on. Let us all get along and let the politicians do the politics. In the end whoever stands to make a profit out of this ‘Whidbey Island war’ will do so. But for the rest of their life they will sleep uneasy. And not because of jet noise, but because of guilty conscience.