Thursday, June 21, 2007

County Commissioners Should Support Shooting Range

I support Sheriff Ken Fries' effort to build a new shooting range in Fort Wayne. The range can support public safety training while providing a much needed area for recreational shooters. Fries is also correct to try and build the range with grant money and not taxpayer dollars. However, before they can apply for the grants they must own the land so there will be some initial expenses that the commissioners must approve:
But before the department can apply for any grants for the $10 million to $15 million project, it needs to own the property where the range and driving courses would be built. Grant money and monetary donations and in-kind donations from local businesses will likely pay for construction, Myers said. Fries pitched his plan to the county commissioners Wednesday and told them he needed $475,000 to buy the land at Adams Center and Paulding roads. About $200,000 would come from the sheriff’s commissary account, which collects revenue from inmates being housed in the Allen County Jail, Fries said.

This amount could easily be made up in user fees if the grants do come through or the land could be resold if they are unsuccessful in acquiring the grants. Currently the nearest public rifle range is the recently renovated range at Huntington Reservoir. The JG article doesn't explicitly say that there will be a public rifle range and I will attempt to verify whether or not the plans include a rifle range or only a place to shoot handguns. There are other places in the city where the public can fire handguns so Fries should try to ensure that the area will have a rifle range open to the public.

Also, kudos to Nelson Peters for supporting the proposal thus far...

UPDATE: I spoke with Sheriff Fries and he assured me that one of the ranges would be a 300-500 yd rifle range that would be open to the public. He seemed to genuinely support the idea of making it a public/government facility and doing so without using local tax dollars to build it...

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