Connecticut State Police are looking into putting a new shooting range in Griswold, but many area residents say they don’t want to hear gunfire in the communal backyard they share with the Pachaug Forest.
"I truly believe it’s the wrong place for this facility. I feel like the people of Eastern Connecticut are largely ignored until the state wants to dump something on this side of the state,” said Pam Patalano, co-founder of the group Save Pachaug Forest.
On Tuesday members of the group continued what’s now become a years-long fight to stop the Connecticut State Police from building a new firearms training facility and gun range on a piece of land in Griswold.
“I feel like they’re not taking it seriously what we’re saying and they’re not taking seriously the impact that the location of that range could possibly have on our economic development,” said Tracey Hanson, Voluntown first selectman.
Residents were pushing back against the state police proposal at a scoping meeting meant to lay out the proposal, outline potential environmental impacts and allow the public to weigh in.
Many residents said they simply don’t want the sound of police gunfire ringing out anywhere in their community.
“That’s just ridiculous. I mean, we may be from the quiet corner, but we’re not stupid,” said Sen. Heather Somers (R- Dist. 18).
State police said their current facility in Simsbury is outdated and a flood-risk. The Griswold site was selected after years of considering options like sharing public gun ranges or using Department of Correction facilities. State police said they hear the concerns of the community
“We understand this is a major project that will have impact to the area. That’s why we’re going through this meeting and the next months ahead of us to be able to show and learn how those concerns can be addressed and mitigated as the project goes forward,” said. State Police Lt. Marc Petruzzi.
It could be several years before a final decision about the site of the training facility is made, but whether today or somewhere down the line, these residents said they’ll never want it.
With the public meeting over, a formal environmental impact assessment will be drawn up and published. The public will then get to review that and weigh in at another meeting. Even if the plan were to move forward, it would be several more years before construction begins.