With five weeks to go until the first votes are cast in the race for governor, the issue of a proposed state police gun range and training facility in Griswold was front and center in the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
Ned Lamont, a Greenwich businessman and endorsed Democrat, met with families who live in Griswold within earshot of the proposed gun range.
“I’m a strong supporter of the state police and I promise you they are going to get a great training facility but I don’t believe it’s going to be here in Griswold,” Lamont said. “I think that’s the wrong place to be.”
The event at the home, to which Lamont was invited, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim described as political opportunism.
“Politicizing something just to pander to say, ‘oh, let me get out in front of this thing,’ is not the way that I’ve acted in trying to move forward on important issues as a public official.”
The issue of the gun range goes back about two years as the Connecticut State Police have been looking for a new location for the site. The current facility in Simsbury dates back to the 1940s, and was badly damaged by floods in 2007. The agency has been searching for a new site ever since, and settled on the Griswold site, adjacent to Pachaug State Forest, as the best location due to its rural location, and minimal impact on residents, relative to other proposed locations in the state.
Lamont said he would start a new process to examine other locations and even consider using existing state property for the range.
“[I’m going to be] somebody who looks at all of the assets the state of Connecticut has, the thousands of buildings already, and see if I can better utilize those assets, sell the ones we don’t need and put the gun range in a place that is responsive to the community.”
Gov. Dannel Malloy weighed in on the recent discussion, defending the state police process for settling on the Griswold site.
“There is probably no perfect place and I understand why people don’t want it but the reality is they want the protection,” Malloy said. “They certainly want resident troopers who know how to use the guns.”
Pam Patalano, who organized the group Save Pachaug Forest to protest the gun range, said she feels she has an ally in Lamont. She says she hopes he lives up to his word if he wins the Democratic primary and then the general election.
“We’ve heard crickets from a lot of the political arena and as you heard Ned say, the first thing he’s going to do when he becomes governor is to take care of this gun range issue, right Ned? So we’re really excited to hear those words out of his mouth.”