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March 21, 2019

3/13/2019 11:51:00 AM
Navy declines following most preservation recommendations
Increased Growler jet operations coming
Sound Defense Alliance responds to Navy

“In what has become an all too familiar response, the Secretary of the Navy has rejected most of the recommendations from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The Secretary and the Department of Defense continue to disregard the concerns of a region that has been a good neighbor to the military for decades,” writes Maryon Attwood, chair of the Sound Defense Alliance.
“It is shockingly disrespectful to the people and elected leaders of Northwest Washington that he ignored what we asked for and offered things that had already been rejected by the community, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the governor. We have been working to find a balance but the DOD wants more. They have proven that they are not interested in listening or being a good neighbor,” stated Attwood.
Allyson Brooks, the state Historic Preservation Officer, said in a statement that the Navy rejected most of the federal advisory council’s recommendations. “Specifically, we were hoping for precise noise monitoring among other recommendations, including continued work with stakeholders,” Brooks wrote.
Sound Defense Alliance will continue to work with elected leaders, the DoD, and the governor to fight the massive increase in the number of Growler jets, flights and locations of Growler jets training across the region.
SDA serves as a voice for citizen input on military issues. The organization and its member groups represent a diverse group of Washingtonians from all over the state. They critically assess military needs while protecting their communities, encouraging economic diversification, and preserve the land, air, water and wildlife for future generations.
For more about the Sound Defense Alliance and the No New Jets, No New Flights Campaign: sounddefensealliance.org.
Submitted by Sound Defense Alliance

The U.S. Navy will “move forward” with increasing Growler airfield operations at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer wrote in a March 8 letter to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, a federal agency. The Navy will adopt some of the Council’s recommendation for noise mitigation while it “decline[s] to implement additional noise monitoring efforts” and declines further study and discussions with stakeholders, Spencer states in the five page letter.
The Council oversees Section 106 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which “requires federal agencies to consider the effects of projects they carry out, approve, or fund on historic properties.”
Since 2014 the Navy has worked toward a memorandum of agreement on noise mitigation measures for historic properties on the over 17,000-acre Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve on central Whidbey Island. The Navy’s termination of negotiations in November triggered Section 106. The Council held a public meeting in Coupeville in December. It sent its recommendations in a letter to the Navy Secretary Feb. 19. The Council can only recommend.
The Navy’s letter states that it determined “increased Growler operations would result in adverse indirect effects to the Central Whidbey Island Historic District by affecting the perceptual qualities of five locations that contribute to the significance of the landscape.” That is, jet noise will ruin the landscape for residents and tourists.
Spencer declines to “undertake additional efforts to monitor and . . . develop measures for addressing the effects to the affected historical properties.” He also declines “to undertake further study of effects on the Historic District from private property owners abandoning or not investing in rehabilitation or maintenance of buildings or structures.” Spencer notes the ACHP could not project owners actions.
The Navy declines to carry “out mitigation measures in further discussion with stakeholders.” The Navy and ACHP understood that “no amount of mitigation would be acceptable,” that some held that no increased operations was the only insurance of preserving properties.
The Navy declines the recommendation to "examine other creative means of funding and carrying out these measures.” The Navy will fund $1 million worth of Ferry House preservation projects. The 1860 structure near Coupeville was built by Winfield Scott Ebey.
Spencer concludes “there are a number of issues on which we agree” and ends “[t]his concludes the NHPA Section 106 process."
The Navy’s letter is at: https://www.achp.gov/node/10523.
Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, responded: “I am disappointed the Navy did not return to mitigation discussions with the community. I will continue to push for the Navy to develop a program to conduct noise monitoring at points of interest in Coupeville and reduce the impacts of noise on the community.”
At press time the Washington State Historic Preservation Officer and ACHP staff had not provided comment.

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• Ken Stern

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