Instead of grumbling over Growlers, Oak Bay residents can make themselves heard by the US Navy in its bid to increase jet traffic at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
The Navy released a draft environmental impact statement earlier this month that evaluates the potential impacts of increasing the number of EA-18G Growler jets at the air station. The draft EIS is open for public comment through Jan. 25.
Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen said he received notification last Monday about five open houses in and around that region.
“They also, in their notice, have an online feedback form,” Jensen said. “For people who feel that it’s a disturbance now, they need to know it’s going to get significantly worse once the 36 new jets are added to the complement. People should be aware of that and be encouraged to give the US Navy their feedback.”
Currently there are just over 80,000 takeoff and landings per year at the station. The plan is to increase that to about 133,000 takeoff and landings per year. Residents near the water and in higher elevations can hear or feel those events.
“It’s not everyday that I’ve noticed, it’s rather sporadic and I think that depends on the atmospheric conditions. Recently there were quite a number of days in a row when the rumble was very obvious,” Jensen said. “I fully accept that we need the military to be ready and be trained, they protect Americans as well as Canadians, that’s something I think is very positive. What I’m hoping for is they take into account and work to reduce the impact on Oak Bay and surrounding areas. People as far away as the Highlands have been affected by the noise.”
All comments on the Draft EIS submitted before the end of the public comment period are expected to become part of the public record and will be addressed in the final EIS. Comments must be postmarked or received online by Jan. 25, 2017.
Visit whidbeyeis.com for more information and to offer feedback online, or mail comments to: EA-18G EIS Project Manager, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Atlantic – Attn: Code EV21/SS, 6506 Hampton Blvd., Norfolk, VA 23508.