Police, HCSO target Farmer's Market site for $4M indoor range - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Police, HCSO target Farmer's Market site for $4M indoor range

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- If the signs posted at the entrance and the extended driveway weren't clues enough, the sound makes it clear.

"You can hear the noise in the parking lot more than the range itself," says Chief Deputy Allen Branum, of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

But not for much longer.

The guns go, when the National Park Service claims the 33 acres at Moccasin Bend that Chattanooga Police (CPD)  and the Sheriff's Office (HCSO) use as an outdoor target range and training.

"This one was determined to be the most appropriate site to build at," Police Chief Bobby Dodd tells County Commissioners Thursday.

He's referring to the 'Old Can Warehouse' site on East Twelfth Street, just around the corner from CPD's soon-to-open "Onion Bottom" precinct downtown at the Old Farmer's Market.

Using a privately-owned facility in Roswell, GA as the model, Dodd and Branum offer Commissioners a PowerPoint presentation that calls for a new, $4 million climate-controlled indoor shooting range.

"We're looking at approximately 25 lanes," Branum says. "Twenty-five  shooting lanes."

They won't come cheaply.

"When you walk in the doors and flip the switches on, the meter starts running," Branum admits.

Operating costs for the air filtration system alone could run $75 per hour, city and county officials guesstimate.

"The city's actually ready to move with this right away," Dodd says.

The plan calls for Hamilton County and Chattanooga each to kick in $1-1.5million.

Federal grants would cover the rest; roughly $500,000 each for a 'bullet trap' and a targeting system.

"But we don't move fairly quickly on this, or get an extension, we stand to lose that," Dodd says.

"One grant expires in July, the other next year.

Crews will have to clear the Old Can Building of asbestos before it's leveled to make way for the Range. The Moccasin Bend site also requires environmental abatement.

"The buildings would have to be demolished," says Superintendent Cathy Cook, of the National Park Service.

"But we could offset the costs of recovering the lead and the brass."

Plans call for recycling and reselling the metal from the bullets and shell casings, Dodd and Branum say.

Commissioners have put the matter on next Wednesday's action agenda express support, but several are skeptical.

"It almost sounds like, without all the numbers, we're writing a blank check," Commissioner Joe Graham says.

Graham also seeks guarantees that smaller police agencies, such as Lookout Mountain's and Red Bank's would not be 'priced out' with high user fees.  Besides the CPD and the HCSO, 10-15 other federal and local law enforcement agencies use the Moccasin Bend range for training and re-qualifying their firearms certifications.

"We believe these concerns are workable, but we need to act quickly," Chief Deputy Branum says.

Chief Dodd is blunt.

"We're looking at losing a third of the (help with the) costs to build this thing through inaction."


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