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Panel votes to invest $2 million to shore up firing range

April 16, 2021 GMT

SIMSBURY, Conn. (AP) — The state of Connecticut plans to invest at least $2 million in the flood-prone Connecticut State Police firing range in Simsbury for now, following years of unsuccessful attempts to relocate it to another community.

On Friday, the State Bond Commission approved the $2 million in borrowing to finance the design and construction of improvements to the building, including new “flood-resistant structures,” according to the commission’s agenda.

State officials, however, have still not ruled out eventually finding a new location for the range, which is utilized by both state and local police officers and is prone to flooding because of its proximity to the Farmington River.

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“The building is having some water issues and it needs an immediate infusion of funds to improve the condition. We do believe that this location can meet the needs of the department. We are going to continue to assess that,” said Melissa McCaw, secretary of the Office of Policy and Management. “So after those repairs are concluded we will reevaluate, but we do think the location can certainly serve the needs.”

Shortly after taking office in 2019, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont stuck by a campaign promise to scrap plans to build a new firing range in Griswold. He instructed his Department of Administrative Services to terminate a purchase-and-sale agreement for a 113-acre piece of land near Pachaug State Forest, where the range was to be located.

Many residents had expressed concern about the noise from the proposed range, which became a hot issue during the 2018 governor’s race. Lamont said at the time that he supported building a new shooting facility for the state police but called the Griswold site the “wrong place.”

Potential sites in Willington and East Windsor also drew strong opposition from residents.

Lamont said in 2019 that the state would conduct a “complete analysis of the project” and search for “viable alternative locations.”