An indoor shooting range proposed by the Carroll County Recreation and Parks Board this week would serve the educational and training needs of sportsmen, the president of a county sports group said yesterday.
"We wholly support it," said Steve Scherer, president of the Carroll County Sportsmen's Association.
A subcommittee of the board proposed Wednesday that the county spend $311,000 to build an indoor range at Hoods Mill Landfill in South Carroll, off Route 97 near the Howard County line. The county plans to close the landfill this summer.
Sportsmen have been searching for a place to build a range for almost 10 years. Neighbors have objected to every site they've explored, citing noise and safety concerns.
An indoor range, which would have 10-inch-thick cement walls, would not allow noise to escape, Recreation and Parks Director Richard J. Soisson said.
The proposal will have to pass several levels of approval before the range could be built. Next month, the Recreation and Parks Board will rate the shooting range and 10 other proposed capital projects for inclusion in the department's five-year capital plan, Mr. Soisson said.
The board's recommendation then will be sent to the county Planning Commission and eventually to the county commissioners for their approval. The five-year plan would start in fiscal year 1996, which will begin July 1, 1995.
The public probably would have an opportunity to comment on the proposal before the commissioners made a decision about whether to build the range, County Attorney Charles W. Thompson Jr. said.
The Recreation and Parks subcommittee, chaired by board member Frank Ryan, proposed a 10-lane shooting range, with five 50-yard lanes and five 25-yard lanes, Mr. Soisson said.
The building also would have a classroom and restrooms, he said. The county would solicit bids for construction.
Mr. Scherer said the sportsmen's association proposed that a seven-member board be appointed to oversee operations at the shooting range. The board would include members from the state's attorney's office, sheriff's department, sportsmen's association, Recreation and Parks department and the public, he said.
Mr. Soisson said the range would be open to the public and probably would be used for educational programs and by state and local police for training. "It would have a wide use," he said.
Users would pay to shoot at the range so the facility could be self-sufficient, Mr. Soisson said. A fee schedule has not been set.
Mr. Scherer said the sportsmen's association originally had opposed an indoor range because members thought it would be too expensive. But after exploring at least four sites for outdoor ranges, they realized an indoor range probably would be the best solution. "All the locations have been exhausted," he said.
The county and the association considered building outdoor ranges at Hoods Mill Landfill, near the proposed Gillis Falls Reservoir, at Morgan Run Natural Environment Area and at a Union Mills farm.
County officials also considered building an indoor/outdoor range that would decrease noise, but a site never was chosen.