New gun range plan at Marietta community college not dead, but many hurdles still ahead

The Marietta Times is reporting that while proposed plan to build an outdoor gun range at Washington State Community College isn't dead, but those involved say there are numerous hurdles to overcome before it could happen.

A meeting in early December about the proposed range, which would be located on a hill beyond the college's lower parking lot, yielded anger and concerns about safety from neighbors of the college.

According to The Times, college officials had hoped to have an on-campus gun range for use by its Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy students and to be used as a testing site for local law enforcement. Most officers use a gun range off Ohio 26, about a 30-minute drive from Marietta for their required range time.

Marietta Police Chief Brett McKitrick, who is on the gun range planning committee, is now quoted as saying he's not optimistic that the project will still happen.

From the article:

"I'd like to see it happen, but I think it would be very difficult to convince the neighbors that it's safe and convince (Marietta City) Council that the neighbors are comfortable," he said. "I don't really see it happening."

The committee, which last met Dec. 20, is considering some other options, said Joy-Frank Collins, spokeswoman for Washington State Community College.

"We're continuing to move forward and look at the feasibility," she said. "Nothing is set in stone, and community input is still welcome."

Frank-Collins said the committee is researching some alternative sites, although she didn't know the locations.

If the gun range is within city limits, it would require a change to the zoning ordinance and approval by city council.

"Some of the other things they're researching have to do with the physical construction of a range and preparations for that," Frank-Collins said. "There are all sorts of things to look into, and we want to give it a lot of thought."

If a college-associated gun range is not on Washington State's campus, it could still benefit local police and sheriff's deputies, said McKitrick.

"We'd prefer something closer," he said. "The only time we can do training is in overtime, and we're wasting an hour of overtime round-trip right now."

Officers have to use the range two or three times a year, he said.

"If you multiply that by 30 people, while it's not tens of thousands of dollars for our type of budget, it does matter," McKitrick said. "Those are dollars we could be using somewhere else."

According to the newspaper, concerns from neighbors included their safety, as well as the value of their homes. Several residents suggested an indoor gun range, which would be much more expensive to build.

John Burdette, commander of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) at the college. has been quoted as saying that while some have been vocal in their opposition to the proposal, "we also had neighborhood comments prior to the meeting from people who supported the project or who said they wouldn't oppose it."

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