State Still Eyes Gun Range in Griswold and Sprague

CANTERBURY dropped from gun-range list: State still eyes GRISWOLD and SPRAGUE

On Thursday, the Department of Administrative Services announced sites in Canterbury, Griswold, Sprague and Voluntown were all removed from consideration, as well as the contiguous sites in Hampton. Remaining on the state’s short list is another site in Griswold, located on Lee Road and surrounded by the Pachaug State Forest, and one other site in Sprague, along Westminster Road and also surrounded by forestland.-TRACI HASTINGS Chronicle Staff Writer

CANTERBURY — Less than two days after selectmen in Canterbury voted to send a letter to the state in opposition to a proposal to relocate a police gun range to town, the state has removed the town from its list.

The state Department of Administrative Services has been looking to replace the current outdated state police training facility on eroding land along the Farmington River in Simsbury.

Sites in East Windsor and Willington were the state’s first choice, but those were withdrawn after protests. Landowners in Canterbury, Griswold, Hampton, Sprague and Voluntown offered up land for sale to the state and officials held forums to gauge public opinion on the proposals.

Many towns reacted in opposition, with Hampton establishing a vocal grassroots effort that resulted in the landowner withdrawing his site from consideration.

More than 100 Canterbury residents, the majority of who were opposed to a gun range in town, attended a board of selectmen meeting on Tuesday. Selectmen then drafted a letter of concern to the state requesting the Department of Administrative Services select another location to site the facility.

On Thursday, the Department of Administrative Services announced sites in Canterbury, Griswold, Sprague and Voluntown were all removed from consideration, as well as the contiguous sites in Hampton. Remaining on the state’s short list is another site in Griswold, located on Lee Road and surrounded by the Pachaug State Forest, and one other site in Sprague, along Westminster Road and also surrounded by forestland.

“We have listened to the affected communities and have settled on sites that are the most isolated from residential properties,” said Melody Currey, the commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services. “While the other sites are not moving forward, we would like to thank the owners who offered their properties for consideration.”

The new gun range would include several decks for different types of weapons practice, as well as storage, classroom and office space. The facility would be secured when not in use.

Normal weekday traffic would be approximately 30 state troopers, but parking would be available for 100 for special training sessions. The state police are overseen by the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

“We are most appreciative that all five towns participated in our town hall meetings,” said public safety Commissioner Dora Schriro. “Candid feedback about the potential range sites in combination with further assessment of the 11 sites was essential to the process, and we listened to everyone. The remaining range sites are very promising, affording both the opportunity for critical state police training and a thickly wooded buffer around the proposed facility, assuring the safety and well-being of nearby land owners and residents.”

A more in-depth evaluation of the suitability of both remaining sites will now move forward by the state. <a href="http://thechronicle imp source.com/”>TheChronicle

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