During a special meeting of Coupeville Town Council last week, Councilman Bob Clay expressed his frustration at the public’s perception of how the town is handling issues surrounding jet noise.
The purpose of the special meeting was to approve a statement from the council for submission to the Navy’s environmental impact study of jet noise at Outlying Field.
Despite the fact a town meeting was held at the Coupeville Rec Hall on jet noise, and that the town has remained involved in the process, Clay said the perception remains that the town has done nothing to address the matter.
What council has not done, he said, is taken a public stance on the noise issue and taken a side.
During 2013, the Oak Harbor City Council and Mayor Scott Dudley united in voicing its support of the Navy presence on Whidbey Island, even donning “I Love Jet Noise” T-shirts to drive the point home.
Oak Harbor’s identity is intertwined with and virtually inextricable from the Navy, much as Coupeville is connected to Ebey’s Prairie.
Picking a side in the noise fight likely would not serve Coupeville well, nor lead to any productive discussion or compromise.
As individuals, council members certainly have their opinions.
As a council, the focus should be on working to help mitigate the issue by collecting public input and continuing to facilitate a solution.
By contributing comments to the Navy’s environmental impact study, the Coupeville Town Council has an opportunity to relay residents’ comments and concerns based on conversations with constituents.
Town of Coupeville does have a stake in this controversy and is impacted by the issue, but drawing a line in the sand isn’t the answer.
Meanwhile, the appropriate thing for town council to do is be an active part of the discussion without pointing fingers.
— Megan Hansen is editor of The Whidbey Examiner. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org