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New feature on county website tracks Navy jet noise

Naval Air Station Whidbey Island has become the source of complaints because of noise from its new fleet of so-called “Growler” fighter aircraft, like the one shown above.   - Contributed Photo / Neptunuslex
Naval Air Station Whidbey Island has become the source of complaints because of noise from its new fleet of so-called “Growler” fighter aircraft, like the one shown above.
— image credit: Contributed Photo / Neptunuslex

Islanders can now report noise from military jet aircraft on a new application on the San Juan County website.

It’s proven to be popular, with 14 reports registered in less than 24 hours after the application went active in the afternoon of May 15. Visitors to the website can enter their own observations and access prior entries by clicking on the red dots on the map.

In April, county councilmen Jamie Stephens and Bob Jarman led a contingent of islanders to Whidbey Island to talk with the Naval Air Station Whidbey commander about problems with noise from Navy jets flying over and near the San Juans.

As a follow-up to comments by the commander, the council asked GIS Coordinator Nick Peihl to develop an easy-to-use application so anybody, citizen or visitor, can register having heard the noise of Navy jet exercises, and note any problems caused by it.

Stephens said the Navy might benefit from information collected through the county website.

“We totally support and appreciate the important role this base plays in this country’s defense,” he said. “Its commanders have told us they want to be good neighbors, and one thing that will help is having good information about how their operations are affecting us.”

Town of Friday Harbor Administrator Duncan Wilson said that the town will put a link to the county app on its website. Wilson accompanied the group on its April outing to Whidbey.

“The town is very appreciative of the work the county has done to put this reporting tool together,” he said. “This is not just a Lopez Island issue. The town residents have been significantly impacted by this new noise. We encourage all citizens to report when they hear noise so we can help the Navy pinpoint the problem activities and find mitigation measures.”

Cynthia Dilling of Lopez thinks it’s about time the county joins the noise protest.

“I hope everybody on Lopez and San Juan who is bothered by the unbearable noise reports every time it happens on the new website,” she said.

Dilling and seven other Lopezians joined Whidbey islanders in Coupeville May 9 to protest the Navy’s touch-and-go training flights. Although the Navy cancelled scheduled exercises a couple of hours before the protest, Dilling said the event was an emotional event.

“People coming together to try to stand in the face of noise which makes their homes feel unlivable,” she said. “Several people said they’d move if they could - but they can’t afford to and now their homes are devalued because of the noise and may not even be sellable.”

Two days before the May 9 cancellation, the Navy conducted unscheduled, unannounced touch-and-go exercises at OLF [Outlying Landing Field] Coupeville. Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve Chairman Michael Monson issued a news release in response: “This past Wednesday – the Navy flew unscheduled Growler FCLP’s [Field Carrier Landing Practices] at OLF and as a consequence flew right over young children playing T-ball at a park located near OLF. The game was cancelled because the children fell to the ground holding their ears.”

Access the jet noise reporting application at, www.sjcgis.org/aircraft-noise-reporting.

 

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