Opinion: Work continues following town OLF meeting

By Nancy Conard

Many thanks to those who attended the community forum last week to share concerns about the Growlers’ carrier landing practice at Outlying Field. I regret there was not room for everyone in the building, and thank those who participated from the parking lot.

The evening confirmed for me, again, that we live in a great community, where people of varying opinions can meet, exchange views, and maintain a civil dialogue. It also made me a member of the Valerie Reuther fan club—she did a fabulous job facilitating the meeting.

Commissioner Helen Price Johnson and I  both feel we received good, and new, input regarding the impacts our constituents are experiencing as well as suggestions for possible mitigations at a local level. It is clear that there is a change in operations that is causing real problems for our friends and neighbors.

Attendees at the meeting were given at opportunity to complete a written survey. If you were unable to attend the forum and would like to complete a survey, they are available 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday thru Friday at Coupeville Town Hall, at www.townofcoupeville.org or by contacting me at mayor@townofcoupeville.org

The survey responses and the input provided by the table groups will be tabulated over the next 2-3 weeks. We are also reaching out to other entities, such as the school and hospital,  as a result of some of the concerns expressed at the meeting, to get a better understanding of any challenges they may be experiencing.

We are in the process of scheduling our next meetings with local base leadership and  with the regional naval leadership in July.

We were very happy to have representatives for Congressman Rick Larson and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell present at the meeting.

They have reached out to us to schedule follow up meetings, and we are eager to seek their help and support.

As we stated at the meeting, our focus at this time is to work with local base leadership and try to develop operational changes that may improve the situation.

We recognize that the majority opinion expressed by those present at the meeting was to see OLF closed. As I said at the meeting, I believe that decision will be made at a much higher level. Others are leading that effort, and in the meantime, Commissioner Price Johnson and I will continue to build relationships with the local naval officials who have control over the local operations and work for improvements at that level.

Some changes that we might discuss is the number of days per week that flights occur, or the actual hours flown per day, or changes in flight pattern to relieve the intensity of multiple days of flying.

I will continue to provide progress reports to the Town Council at their regular meetings. You may subscribe to our meeting agendas and minutes by contacting Clerk Treasurer Judy Thomas at clerktreasuer@townofcoupeville.org

n Nancy Conard is mayor for Town of Coupeville. Her column will be appearing monthly in The Whidbey Examiner.


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