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Proposed Outdoor Police Firing Range in Keene Shelved

February 6, 2013

The proposed police gun range at the old Keene landfill has been shelved, at least for now.

Many locals have opposed the outdoor range for months, and Albemarle County supervisors took those concerns into consideration at their meeting Wednesday morning.

Opponents of the location call it a cautious victory. More than 100 people showed up to voice opposition to the landfill location.

"In the process of fully evaluating other sites that are feasible, it will be an obvious conclusion that Keene is an inappropriate site," said Paula Beazley, an Albemarle County resident and opponent to the site.

County officials say they'll now review alternative locations for the police training facility.

"Moving to an indoor-facility philosophy for us requires us to rethink our training," said Col. Steve Sellers, chief of Albemarle County Police.

An indoor facility does have its restrictions for police training. Sellers said officers would not have real-life scenarios, particularly when it comes to weather conditions. He cited the example of officers responding to a barricade and hostage situation on Rio Mills Road on Dec. 26.

"It was cold, it was raining, it was icy," he said of the day. "[An outdoor facility] affords the best, most realistic training."

The Keene landfill could still be a site for an indoor firing range. The old Hyosung tire plant in Scottsville has also been cited as a potential location.

An indoor facility would be more expensive, but police are confident they can fundraise and cover the cost. Sellers said police can also design it to make it as realistic for officers as possible.

"With the proper design and the proper forethought, I think we can accomplish our goals as an agency and as a community," Sellers said.

"I would be hopeful they could go outside of the county or there could be an enclosed range somewhere else in the county," said Cyndra Van Clief, an Albemarle County resident and opponent of the landfill. "Not in a closed, abandoned, landfill dump."

Opponents of the landfill location call the decision citizen action at work. They say they're ready and willing to work with police in finding alternatives.

Police have begun that process of developing a plan and hope to have more details by April.


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