Pittsfield Seeking New Location for Police Shooting Range
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are now looking for either a place outside the city limits or to build an indoor shooting range.
The Police Department halted live fire at the Utility Drive shooting range last month following objections from the neighbors. Police Chief Michael Wynn said a look at other city-owned properties to create a new range will likely face the same problem. That leaves the city in a position to either build an indoor facility or find somewhere else for an outdoor one.
"It is not like we can do this at an outdoor location within city limits without some serious engineering work," Wynn said. "It is either get outside of the city limits or build an indoor facility."
The chief said there is sound reduction technology available to make an outdoor range be less invasive, but it will come at an expense.
Neighbors had issues with the Utility Drive shooting range regarding safety and noise. They raised concerns over zoning and the proximity to the homes with children. The Police Department issued an order to halt the live fire training, though police will still use it for other types of training.
"There should not be gunfire coming from that range from anybody associated with the Pittsfield Police Department," Wynn said.
The issue came to a peak when the citizens took it to the City Council and the city's building department conceded that there were conflicts with zoning. Wynn said the department now has until the end of the year to come up with at least an idea for a new location. He said other local departments with ranges have offered to help out with some of the essential needs between now and then.
"My preference is that we train outside. We work outside," Wynn said.
The department is between training cycles right now, but Wynn said there will be the need for a lot more training early next year.
Councilor at Large Melissa Mazzeo is particularly in favor of the city looking outside of its limits for a shooting range but Wynn said it can't be too far away because of travel time.
Council President Peter Marchetti also noticed that the city's zoning bylaws don't address indoor ranges. Building Commissioner Gerald Garner said one could conceivably be built according to the outdoor guidelines, but such things as having 20 acres of land render that possibility remote.
"I don't think anybody is going to do an indoor shooting range here," Garner said.
Garner said the city will have to review its zoning policies should the city opt to look at some type of indoor range.
Lathers Avenue David Durante suggested the city get zoning in order and plan to build a shooting range inside of a new police station. The current police station had one in the basement but it was shut down because of contamination.
"I'd like to take the opportunity with the new police station that we spend the money and give them a range," Durante said.
But a new police station could be a long time off. City officials are now looking to craft a plan for the future so officers have somewhere to train.
Tags: Pittsfield Police, shooting range,
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