City looks to develop former gun range

Huntington Beach planning commissioners and city staff on Monday discussed turning a defunct gun range into a recreational facility.

Commissioners during a study session looked at the potential project's environmental impact report, which addressed the high concentration of lead found at the roughly 5-acre site next to the Sports Complex in Central Park.

The gun range was opened in 1967 to provide law enforcement with a firearm training facility, but it closed in 1997 after an errant bullet broke the window of a home north of the range.

Though lead remnants can be removed from the property, the city may not have the money to transform the gun range to a park.

According to the city's hazardous-materials consultant, Nancy Beresky, an estimated 14,000 tons of lead is embedded in the dirt berm and telephone poles. She added that cleaning up the site would probably cost in excess of $1 million.

She said the 14,000 tons reflected accumulation only over the past several years, but added that the common practice of

gun range owners mining lead shrapnel to sell it for recycling probably helped reduce the overall amount of lead at the site.

"They did do that a number of times out here, so we're not looking at an accumulation of 20 to 30 years of shot," she said. "It'll probably be just the last five or eight years."

Commissioner Bob Dingwall said the city received a settlement from the Huntington Beach Police Officers Assn. to help pay for the remediation, but staff told him it wasn't enough.

"We did get some settlement funds, but it was about $600,000," facilities, development and concessions manager David Dominguez said. He added that the sum wouldn't be enough pay for the cleanup but would help pay for staff reports.

Dominguez said other sources of funding haven't been identified.

According to a staff report, no development plan has been formally submitted. Staff instead used a generic recreational plan that would include a park, dog park, outdoor basketball and tennis courts and parking spaces. A skate park was also considered as an alternate to the courts.

Commissioner Dan Kalmick suggested that racquetball courts be built at the location since those at Worthy Park are slated to be torn down.

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