Measure would pave way to reopen range

Posted: Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Seward shooting range closed in December when an operating lease was terminated may soon open again under terms of an ordinance now before the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.

In 1998, the borough leased about 12 acres within the old Seward landfill to Seward American Legion Post No. 5. The city of Seward had amended its code to permit a shooting range in the Institutional Zoning District.

Under the $1-per-year lease, the range was opened around 2001 under the direction of the Iron Mountain Shooting Club through an agreement with the American Legion, according to Marcus Mueller, borough land management agent.

“The lease was kept in good standing; however, the American Legion terminated the shooting range lease at the end of 2005, leading to the closure of the public shooting range,” Mueller told the assembly in a January memo.

The city wants to take over the shooting range and is negotiating with the shooting club to operate it. Mueller noted the facility is recognized for its importance in providing the public with a safe place to shoot and for meeting firearm-training needs of area police officers.

The ordinance would lease the borough land to the city for $1 per year for 20 years. A public hearing on the ordinance and lease agreement is scheduled for Tuesday’s assembly meeting in Soldotna.

There are between 300 and 400 visits to the shooting range annually, estimated Bob White, president of the Iron Mountain Shooting Club. Those include police officers, U.S. Coast Guard personnel and members of the public.

Though the American Legion had the authority to open the range since 1998, the nonprofit group eventually opened it around 2001, White said. Presuming the ordinance is adopted, the club would open the range probably by the end of May, he said.

A shooter does not have to be a member of the club to use the range, but White said the agreement with the city requires a person certified as a range shooting officer be present when guns are being discharged. Plans are that all club members — there are around 70 — would take the certification course, White said.

The measure is Ordinance 2006-07.

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