Written by Don Jaques November 29, 2017
Today I attended the annual “State of the Base” meeting with the North Puget Sound Area Realtors. Captain Geoff Moore, Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI), gave a 20 minute presentation that included some interesting facts and figures affecting life and the real estate market in the North Whidbey region.
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Update
For the last few years the Navy has been studying the environmental impact of increasing the amount of jets (most importantly the “Growler” jets) based at NASWI. This lengthy report was supposed to be finalized this fall, but some important technological changes have caused a delay in the final report, which is now expected in the fall of 2018.
What is this important technological change? Please forgive my lack of technical knowledge (I was scribbling notes as fast as I could at the meeting!) A new way of training jet pilots in their carrier landings through a simulator has shown to be very effective, and the Navy is fast-tracking it’s deployment as a training method. The advantage of this is it reduces the amount of actual “touch and go’s” that pilots need to take the noisy Growlers through.
Here are some numbers. Currently NASWI runs approximately 24,000 touch and go repetitions each year, split between the Outlying Field (OLF) in Coupeville, and the main runways at Ault Field in Oak Harbor. The worst case scenario for the amount of these repetitions with the coming of additional Growlers to NASWI in the preliminary version of the EIS was approximately 42,000 – almost a 100% increase. Captain Moore stated that with the new technology those numbers would be reduced to around 32,000. This is still a 33% increase in noise generating flights, but not nearly the increase originally projected.
TAKEAWAY: At this point there is no way to know what percentage of these touch and go trainings will happen in Coupeville, and how many will be in Oak Harbor. What is known is that the normal flight pattern is not expected to change from it’s current pattern. This means that people living in the noise zones will most likely experience an increase in the amount of time each year they experience “the sound of freedom”. Those who only occasionally experience noise from the jets will likely not notice a huge difference. (Request a noise zone map.)
The Navy and the Housing Shortage
Commander Moore showed graphs which demonstrated that we are currently at the top of the growth curve for personnel on the base (both military and civilian). Although there are still 3 squadrons slated to be transferred to NASWI in the next couple years, other changes in base operations will result in a net zero increase from the current amount of people coming in and out of the gates each day.
The Navy’s internal studies of housing within a 60 minute commute shows that there are adequate options for their personnel. Although housing is tight in Oak Harbor close to the base, their studies show there is sufficient housing within that 60-minute radius (which includes all of Whidbey Island, Fidalgo Island, and along the Hwy 20 corridor out to Sedro Woolley). For this reason, the Navy is not planning on constructing any new housing on or near NASWI in the near future.
TAKEAWAY: If these projected numbers are accurate, then the shortage of available, affordable housing now happening in North Whidbey and the surrounding regions will likely continue, but not get increasingly worse in the coming years. The Sellers’ market we have experienced the past few years is not likely to change in the near future.
Water Quality Around The Runways
In the last year contamination in underground water near Navy runways around the country has been linked to the use of a certain chemical used in putting out fires, and in training for putting out fires. This prompted testing of wells within a reasonable radius of both Ault Field and the Outlying Field. Captain Moore said that to date just over 200 homeowners have responded to the Navy’s offer to test their well. Of these, 10 wells were found to be above the EPA’s safety level for that chemical. Those homeowners have been supplied bottled water and the investigation into the severity of the problem and possible solutions is still underway.
TAKEAWAY: Anyone living with one mile of either Ault Field’s runways or the Outlying Field is urged to have their well tested. Also, anyone purchasing a home within these areas should require the disclosure of results from this testing before going through with a purchase.
Regardless of any individual’s feelings about living with Naval Air Station Whidbey Island nearby, life on North/Central Whidbey Island as well as Fidalgo Island involves enjoying the benefits and mitigating the negative aspects of the Navy base’s presence and “the Sound of Freedom”. Having lived on North Whidbey since 2002 I am available to answer your questions about life here including the pros and the cons. (I think the pros far outweigh the cons!)
Find more articles by Don Jaques by clicking here.
Looking for a little sunshine on a cloudy day?
Stop by Sunshine drip in Coupeville, the one-stop shop that never disappoints. No matter what time of day, sit down for a steamy cup of coffee or a scrumptious meal. Then be inspired by their ever-changing décor, that is also for sale. Yep, you heard that right, it’s FOR SALE! This cozy little shop will give you the perfect excuse to spruce up that hall table that has been collecting dust for a while…. You know which one we are talking about. Perhaps you need a little inspiration for your new home, and don’t know where to start. Sunshine Drip offers a large selection of unique décor that will surely have you leaving with a bag full of new things. Your mind will be exploding with ideas!
Not only do they carry some of the coolest décor, they also feature one of a kind jewelry, accessories, skin care, candles, coffee mugs, and so much more! Many of the items they sell are hand crafted and locally made, making them great gifts for friends and family. Maybe you will even find a little something for yourself.
We love a place you can shop and eat all in one spot, and you won’t want to leave without at least grabbing a cup of coffee and some home-made baked goods! If you’re there for lunch, we recommend giving their Fruit and Greens salad a try! The house made blackberry vinaigrette dressing, fresh greens, fruits, and generous portion size make it a favorite. However, if salad is not your thing? Try their paninis, they are made with fresh oystercatcher bread and bursting with delicious flavor.
If you’ve ever paid a visit to Sunshine Drip let us know what your favorite menu item is! If you have yet to visit, you’re missing out! So, once you give it a try we’d love to hear all about it!
Check out their website here.
Did you know that the first pie recipe was published during the Roman Empire? Earlier pies were mainly meat pies and later on, during the 12th century in England, they evolved into a more modern pie resemblance.
These days we enjoy pies all over the world, and it is a staple dessert in America.
Today, January 23rd 2018, is National Pie Day and I decided to get my pie fix at Greenbank Farm.
I went to Whidbey Pie Cafe’, and let me tell you….this place is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! If you’ve never been, now is the time to change that. From delicious coffee, sandwiches and soups, to pie galore you find a little bit of everything at Whidbey Pie Cafe. Local produce is used, along with coconut oil, fruits and berries from the Pacific Northwest.
Every holiday is an excuse for me to go ahead and order a pie from this local business. For you berry lovers, the marionberry pie is a must try! The caramel apple pie…. Oh My!
By: Simona Groves
For more blogs by Simona Groves Click Here.
You’ve probably seen it, the Valentine’s décor and candy lining the shelves at just about every retail establishment you visit. This could only mean one thing… Valentine’s Day is just around the corner!
With this year’s love holiday fast approaching, you may be thinking of the perfect place to take your sweetheart. Well, look no further! We are going to highlight over the next few days, two of our favorite local places Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Anacortes.
Oak Harbor #1 – Frasers Gourmet Hideaway
Beloved by many, Frasers is a favorite in Oak Harbor. In fact, the Oak Harbor Ukaladies even recommend stopping by “Frasers for Crème Brule” in their video, “Oak Harbor Love Song”. (Link: https://vimeo.com/200834285 ). Frasers is known for their gourmet dining experience and superior menu options that range from seafood to chicken and waffles. The menu at Frasers changes with the seasons to take advantage of fresh local ingredients, giving you a wide variety of options to choose from. After you’ve indulged on your unique dish, don’t forget to grab some dessert! The Crème Brule perhaps?
Oak Harbor #2 – Blue Fox Drive-In
Another Oak Harbor favorite, the Blue Fox Drive-in never disappoints! Cozy up with some blankets and pillows in your car, and feel like a teenager again sneaking in some kisses during the film. The snack bar is loaded with all your favorite comfort foods, candy, and of course popcorn smothered with buttery goodness! If you really want to bring out your inner child, win some prizes at the arcade while you wait for the movie to begin, or take a ride on the go carts (only open in Spring/Summer). The Drive in is a timeless activity that is fun for all!
Coupeville #1 – Christopher’s on Whidbey
Located in Coupeville, Christopher’s is the perfect place if you’re looking for a casual dining spot, with the experience of a high-end restaurant. Exclusively on Valentine’s day, Christopher’s is serving a special “Valentine’s dinner for two”. You will enjoy a 4-course meal that is thoughtfully prepared by Master Chef, Andreas Wurzrainer. Chef Andreas is known for preparing meals at 4-star restaurants in Europe, aboard luxury expedition ships, and at the Olympic Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle. With his expertise and talents in the kitchen, your taste buds are sure to be delighted! Make a reservation soon because the intimate dining room fills up fast.
Coupeville #2 – Ciao
Maybe a fancy meal just isn’t your style… If that’s the case, check out Ciao in Coupeville! Ciao is known for their fresh Neapolitan (Link to site: http://ciaocoupeville.com/tradition/ ) pizza “made the old fashioned way”, and creamy Gelato with flavors changing through the seasons. Ciao is a real treasure of Whidbey Island, making it an excellent place to take that special someone. To hear from the owner himself about what makes Ciao unique check out this video (link to Simona’s Ciao video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7o-bEZIa_0 )
Anacortes #1 – Ciao Bella
Another Italian gem, Ciao Bella in Anacortes is small but offers a superb dining experience! With candles on the table, soft lighting, and pasta on the menu (Lady and the Tramp anyone?), you couldn’t ask for a more romantic setting. Ciao Bella serves a variety of authentic Italian dishes, made fresh and in house daily, as well Italian beers, making it feel like a real Italian get-a-way!
Anacortes #2 – Dad’s Diner
Who says a great date can only happen at dinner time? Try out a brunch date at Dad’s Diner in Anacortes! Dad’s Diner will make you feel right at home with the inviting atmosphere and friendly service. Known for their exceptional breakfast and house made smoked meats, Dad’s Diner continues to be a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Dad’s Diner gives you a cozy diner setting complete with chalkboard menus, seat yourself service, and food that has enormous flavor! Dad’s Diner is great for a casual and relaxed date, without missing out on an exceptional dining experience.
Whidbey is packed with local treasures. You really don’t have to go far to find a place that will make your Valentine’s Day extra special!
Despite what many think, Oak Harbor is not the rainiest city. In fact, Oak Harbor is situated in what called a “rain shadow”. This means, here in Oak Harbor, we experience less rainfall than our neighboring areas. The surrounding mountains shelter us from rain-bearing winds. While we do experience a variation in the amount of rainfall, we typically see the most in the month of November and the least in July. Of course, some days we see more than others. While many associate rainfall with dreary grey skies we see beauty. Our high spirited community keeps us moving.
For example, many locations around our community have been graced with invisible street art. Check out the image below:
This is the invisible street art in front of our Oak Harbor location. This art only shows up when it rains. So during our next wonderful rainy days on Whidbey, get outside and discover more of these fun pieces of art. Don’t forget to share your findings in the comments below.