Addressing the Navy presence

The Navy can be a wonderful asset in any community. I am so grateful for all the medi-flights done by NAS Whidbey Island. I was surprised that Army divers collaborated with our derelict fishing net removal, rather than the Navy. It would have been a great gesture on the part of the Navy.

My brother is retired Navy and my father was a rescue paratrooper for the Army. I know the essential role of national security that is rendered by the military. Both of these men were able to criticize the military when appropriate, and no one dared to call them anti-military. San Juan County is facing economic challenges, not the least of which is to the tourism business and local resale of homes on south Lopez. The increase of Growler EA-18s now requires people wanting to sell their homes to sign disclosure statements about the Growlers. We have visitors to our National Monument who experience the sound of the Growlers and report “I thought I was going to die,” and “What is that awful noise? How can you stand it?”

According to the economic impact report by Michael Shuman, Washington, D.C.-area attorney, economist and author/editor of nine books: “The [Island] county is losing an estimated $5.7 million a year in sales and property taxes that it would otherwise collect from employees of an equivalently-sized private industry.” He reports that there is an “invisible” $122 million price tag for the Navy’s presence on the island. Contrary to the opinion of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, the Navy is not always so valuable an asset to a local economy.

All that we homeowners are asking is for the Navy to restore the balance of being a good neighbor. There is no way that people in our beautiful Pacific Northwest region can live with 24,000 operations of the world’s noisiest aircraft over our heads. There are plenty of other options.

Rhea Y. Miller

Lopez Island