Proposed Glenville police gun range concerns neighbors

Public hearings set for June 20

GLENVILLE — Some neighbors of the former town landfill are expressing concerns about plans to build a police firearms training range there.

The Town Board has set a public hearing on the proposal for 7 p.m. on June 20 in Glenville Town Hall, as the town considers the “governmental nature” of the Glenville Police Department Firearms Training Center.

The firing range is proposed for the Barhydt Road landfill, which closed in the 1990s. A “governmental nature” designation could exempt the project from town zoning laws.

The plan, revealed earlier this week, prompted several residents of nearby Wagner Road to attend Wednesday’s Town Board meeting, though they decided to wait until the public hearing to state their concerns about gunfire noise and potential ground contamination from lead.

“This is not anti-police. This about degrading the quality of life for an entire neighborhood in Glenville,” said Bill Bolton, of Wagner Road, who estimated he lives just over 400 feet from the proposed firing range and has friends and family members who are police officers.

Bolton, who has lived there since 2013, noted that testing done in 2016 when a regional police academy range was considered for the same site found two AR-15s produced 97 decibels of noise — louder than is allowed under the town’s noise ordinance. Bolton said he is also concerned about lead contamination from discharged bullets, since the site is above the town’s water supply aquifer.

The police firing range would be on part of the town’s 73-acre former landfill, where solar energy development is also being considered. Town officials said the firing range would be built on a different part of the property.

“There’s people that hunt out there illegally, and you hear a single shotgun blast it will scare you right out of bed,” Bolton said. “There’s a reason why other police departments do it at indoor ranges.”

He noted that four or five other people live closer to the site than he does, and he said they’re now communicating with each other about the proposal.

In response, Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said the neighbors’ concerns are legitimate, and the town will need to address them during an environmental review.

“The trains that go back and forth and the traffic from Route 5 register louder than the gun range, but it’s a legitimate concern,” Koetzle said.

He said the State Environmental Quality Review Act study will also address the issue of lead from discharged bullets. 

“I’ve offered to the residents who live on that road an opportunity to meet with (Police Chief Stephen Janik) and I,” Koetzle said. “I think they’re legitimate concerns, and we will be addressing them.”

The plans call for an outdoor firing range, but Koetzle said the sides of the firing line could be enclosed and other measures taken to reduce how far sound carries. 

“We are sensitive to it and are trying to find ways to accommodate it,” he said.

Town and Scotia police now practice at a private gun club, but that has required working around the club’s schedule and paying police overtime for firearms training, Koetzle said.

In a separate but related proposal, the Town Board voted to support construction of the Greater Glenville Public Safety Training Center, slated for a different property near the landfill. That facility would provide a training area primarily for the town’s fire departments, but also for police.

The training center would include a classroom building, an emergency vehicle operations course and a burn practice area. In the future, town officials said they could develop a full fire training center, where firefighters could simulate structure fire rescues, interior fire attacks and other firefighting scenarios.

A training center has been under consideration for the 11.6-acre wooded site since it was donated to the town by the state Department of Transportation in 2005, but financing was never secured for the work.The donation required that the land be used for a public purpose.

Koetzle said construction will cost about $277,000, with a state grant arranged by state Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, covering $127,000. The town will pay the rest. He said the town would seek to recoup some of its investment through either one-time payments or user fees from the village of Scotia and the volunteer fire companies that use the facility.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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