Test Wells, Marketing Study, Next Steps for West Barnstable Shooting Range

507511077BARNSTABLE – As the town of Barnstable continues to study what to do with the West Barnstable shooting range, the police department has been subjected to additional fees and inconvenience.

Barnstable Police Sergeant Michael Damery, who is in charge of the department’s weapons training, said, “We’ve been basically having to scramble. Last year for the department qualification, we had to rent the Monument Beach Sportsman’s Club.”

Damery said the club may not be available for the department to rent again this year.

While a privately-owned inside shooting range is planned to be opened this year, Damery said, that is not ideal for police training.

“Most law enforcement shootings take place outside. We like to be able to do things deploying from cruisers, as if you’re going to an actual call in process. We try to teach our officers not to be stationary, so you want to shoot, move and communicate,” he said.

He said not having access to a town range has had an impact.

“From a fiscal standpoint and from a convenience standpoint and having your resources close by when you need them, having that range unavailable to us is somewhat of a hardship,” he said.

The range closed in 2012 when the town’s insurance agency discovered the property’s use was not included in the town’s policy.

The West Barnstable Conservation Area where the 16-acre shooting range is located was originally purchased as open space. Some residents who live near the range have asked that it revert back to conservation use only.

State environmental officials became aware of the issue and the town worked to establish a similarly-sized parcel at Breed’s Hill near the town’s technology park to “trade” for conservation use so that the shooting range could continue to be used.

But a consultant hired by the town to assess the shooting range property told the town council earlier this year that it would take $7 million to $9 million to clean up lead contamination on the property. The contamination was found beyond the 16-acre shooting range, covering 30 acres and putting the “trade” with state environmental officials at risk.

At last week’s Barnstable Town Council meeting, Assistant Town Manager Mark Ells said the town needs to establish how deep the lead contamination goes, whether it has reached groundwater and whether it is migrating off the property.

In addition, Ells said, the town is sending out a marketing study about the range to the 1,943 former users, asking them if they would continue to be members if it reopens and how much they would be willing to pay.

Of those users, 827 live in the town of Barnstable; 874 live in other towns on Cape Cod; and 242 live off Cape, he said.

If the range reopens, town council members have said the costs to run the range should be paid by fees.

By LAURA M. RECKFORD, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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