E. Cocalico discusses shooting range proposal

By on September 12, 2019

At the Sept. 5 meeting at Smokestown fire hall, East Cocalico supervisors discussed the Ephrata Police Department’s proposal to build a shooting range in Adamstown.

Residents and township officials said they were unaware of the proposal until they read about it in The Ephrata Review. East Cocalico Police Chief Darrick Keppley said since the article ran, he had been told at a meeting of local police chiefs that the residents living near the proposed site had been informed of the proposal by Ephrata Police.

“The only thing we know right now is that they (Adamstown) have the document on their Web page that states that they’re looking at a proposed gun range there,” supervisor R.C. Carrasco said. Adamstown also posted a copy of a letter to Adamstown Council from Ephrata Police Detective Kenneth Lockhart describing the range, its construction, and use. It can be found on the Adamstown Borough website.
In comments on Sept. 10, Lockhart of the Ephrata Police explained that inter-municipal notifications concerning the proposal would proceed at Adamstown Borough’s discretion.

“We want to be good neighbors and we want to be transparent,” said Lockhart.

At the township meeting, resident Denise Orlowski, whose property adjoins the proposed range, had many concerns. Orlowski was one of the residents that had been visited by Lockhart, due to the proximity of her property to the proposed shooting range.

One such concern centered on the siren being blown when actual shooting was about to take place and expressed concern about the effect the noises might have on animals.

“We moved here for peace and quiet,” she said. “Now sirens are going to go off.”

The siren is an aspect of the warning system that will be utilized prior to the use of the range. Additionally, there will be an announcement on a P.A. system and red flags will be flown in the corners of the range to ensure safety.

According to Ephrata Police, the trees surrounding the proposed range and 20-foot-high berm will aid in sound abatement.

Orlowski was also concerned that the shooting range would be used by other police departments other than Ephrata.

According to Lockhart, other police departments may join Ephrata for specific joint training exercises, but those exercises would always include Ephrata officers. Other departments would not be permitted to use the range outside of those pre-planned, specific instances of joint training (included in the minimum number of training days, which is 16, and the maximum of which Lockhart foresees being 30.) Those joint training exercises must be approved by Ephrata Police Chief William Harvey.

Another concern raised was the possibility of lead contamination to groundwater. Orlowski has a well in the area and the range is in the Adamstown watershed where the borough draws its water.

“Ephrata Police intends to follow the guidelines of the United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Rifle Association (NRA),” said Lockhart. Those processes are intended to mitigate the threat of lead contamination.

One woman asked if East Cocalico has any legal standing in the matter. She was told they did not. She questioned why the range wasn’t being built in Ephrata.

“It’s their police department,” she said. “Let them put it there.”

Lockhart discussed previously why the Adamstown location is ideal for the location of the shooting range. Ephrata Police, which provides coverage for Adamstown and West Cocalico, proposed the location because it is a wooded area and “it does have a hill on one side and with noise abatement, the trees will help with that noise of the firearms.”

“We looked at several options,” said Ephrata Police Lieutenant Thomas Shumaker on Tuesday. “This was the most secluded location of them all.”

The proposed shooting range would be positioned approximately more than 300 yards off Adamstown Road, in a wooded area owned by Adamstown Borough. Due to the fact that the proposal is still in its preliminary stages, Lockhart shared that the range could be situated differently, depending on the wishes of council and that the exact location within that wooded area is not definite yet.

Carrasco said the township will send a letter to Adamstown Council and Ephrata Police to alert them to residents’ concerns.

“We’d like to see a formal proposal from them on what they plan on doing so that we can ask questions, because there are a lot of valid questions from the residents,” he said.

“Ultimately,” said Shumaker on Tuesday, “we want to be respectful and responsible. We intend to follow all professional advice that Detective Lockhart has received.”

Larry Alexander is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review.
Aubree Fahringer contributed to this article.

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