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Lease Due to Expire on Police Shooting Range

The fate of the controversial Central Park shooting range remains uncertain as the operating lease held by the city’s police union is scheduled to expire Saturday.

The council voted in October not to renew the Police Officers’ Assn. lease of the 28-year-old shooting range, which is used by 70 police agencies for training. An estimated 1 million rounds of ammunition are fired each year in the shooting range, which has been leased by the police union since 1972 for $1 a year.

Council members will discuss the lease in closed session Jan. 6. The city is considering turning over operations of the shooting range to the Golden West College Police Academy on a month-by-month basis, said Ron Hagan, community services director.

“We’re waiting to see if the Police Officers’ Assn. has some kind of proposal to make,” Hagan said. “It’s all up in the air right now.”

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Some council members have criticized the police union’s operations of the shooting range, saying profits were used to fund political activities while the facility fell into disrepair.

But union officials say the shooting range has been operating at a loss. They have accused council members of political retribution in denying the union a new lease, and the association vigorously campaigned against three City Council incumbents during November’s elections.

Both sides agree that the building, on the site of a former landfill, is in disrepair. The public portion of the shooting range, badly in need of repairs, was closed in October 1995.

A city commission study estimated that it would take $2.5 million to prepare the unstable and contaminated land for construction of a new shooting range.

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Mayor Ralph H. Bauer said the best solution would be for the agencies that use the shooting range to form a joint powers authority to build and operate a new facility.

“There is a countywide need for a shooting range,” Bauer said. “That’s pretty obvious.”


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