Hunters and gun enthusiasts who practice their firearms skills at Carroll County's increasingly popular gun range will soon see improvements to the rough outpost deep inside the county's Northern Landfill.
In a unanimous decision, county commissioners voted yesterday spend $36,000 to run power lines to the Hap Baker Firearms Facility off Route 140 just outside Westminster.
The electricity will be used to power lighting and ventilation systems needed to improve safety and comfort, said Richard J. Soisson, director of the Department of Recreation and Parks.
The lighting will not change hours of operation at the facility, which is open from 10 a.m. to one hour prior to sunset Wednesday through Sunday. From January through March, the range is open Friday through Sunday.
Electricity is also needed for the facility's planned addition of five yard firing lanes. Soisson said the $74,000 expansion should be completed by 2005.
The cost of the electrical improvements will be divided between the firearms facility and the Department of Public Works, which needs to run power lines to a maintenance facility nearby.
Each organization will pay for its share using enterprise funds -- money separate from their operating budgets. Most of the firearms facility's funds are from donations made by the Carroll County Sportsmen's Association and the National Rifle Association.
Opened two years ago over budget and under attack from neighbors, the public firing range -- the only county-owned facility of its kind in the state -- has become one of the most popular ranges in the region.
Built with funds from the county, the state Department of Natural Resources, the Carroll County Sportsmen's Association and the National Rifle Association, the $60,000 range opened in November 1996 at double the anticipated cost after designers added safety and noise-reducing features.
It was named in honor of Clair D. "Hap" Baker, a member of the county sportsmen's association who lobbied against gun-control laws. Baker died in 1997.
No sooner had the first gun been fired than residents of the nearby Tannery Manor community complained, concerned about noise and safety. County commissioners voted to spend $12,000 to muffle the noise of gunfire.
Noise remains a problem for neighbors, even after sound barriers were built. Though no complaints have been filed recently, neighbors can still hear gunshots, Soisson said.
Pub Date: 12/15/98