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Lancaster shooting range project off the table; Part III: closing comments
By Lee Chowaniec
Feb 9, 2012, 10:41
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At the closing public comment session, where the public is allowed to speak on any matter, residents again addressed the board on the police range option that had been discussed at the work session and at the regular meeting.

Lee Chowaniec: “Mr. Fudoli, you were elected into office with a mandate for fiscal responsibility. The shooting range fits that bill. Listening to what transpired in the work session prior to the regular meeting and to what other individuals had to say at the prefile public comment session, there was a lot of conflicting information presented.”

“The police were saying that the Walden Avenue Wolcott Guns project proposal has no training facility. Mr. Beutler, who serves on the Village of Depew planning board, says he has seen the site plan proposal and that it does provide a training facility. This is one of the things the board will have to investigate.”

“I also heard in the work session that there is no guarantee that overtime costs will be eliminated should the town proceed to build its own range on Pavement Road; that officers will be able to train while on duty and that conditions will be any different than they are now. In my opinion, taking cars off the road for training purposes compromises public safety.”

“I also don’t understand why Chief Gill and the officers that appeared tonight did not do so sooner to make the point what value is had in having their own police range. I am hearing information today that should have been made public a long time ago.”

Chief Gill: “First of all, the police department was heavily involved in the preparation and planning for the bid part that was necessary for contemporary range. It was premised on us getting grant money ($350,000). It was not until recently, as was referenced by Mr. Fudoli earlier, that the grant money was not likely to go through. So we came to the board meeting tonight to let the public know that police officers are expected to perform optimally under adverse circumstances, and that they should be afforded the opportunity to train optimally to meet the standards; standards that benefit the public. This is not a privilege, a range is a necessity.

Supervisor Fudoli: “We are getting off the topic here. What we are trying to do is to find solutions to do it (range) economically; so that the taxpayers can be happy and the police officers can be proficiently trained.”

Chief Gill: “I want to respond to the comment he (Chowaniec) made that we have worked two months on this when we have been involved in this process for years.”

Supervisor Fudoli: “The concern came up tonight by police officer Cronin that there is no training room, no classroom type training room in the Depew facility.”

Chief Gill: “I have it here (plans) and there is no mention of a training room.”

Fudoli: “Why was such plan not included in the town’s Pavement Road project?”

Chief Gill: “There are.”

Chowaniec: “He’s right. I understand where Chief Gill is coming from. At the same time, in today’s world services are being consolidated and municipalities are looking at doing other things to cut spending.”

“I understand Chief Gill’s point that overtime can be reduced by having their own range. My counterpoint is that they cannot guarantee that no more overtime will occur if the Pavement Road project takes place; that they don’t come back later with same overtime pay requests. That was Mr. Fudoli’s position during the work session discussion on the matter.”

“I look at the Walden Avenue project consideration as tremendous savings for the Lancaster taxpayers. We are looking at $1.2 million at minimum. As to the $30,000 cost estimate project given by Police Officer Cronin to maintain the building to mine the lead out, is far below what the actual cost will be to operate and maintain the Pavement Avenue range building.”

“All I am saying is (for this board) to look at everything. Mr. Fudoli, you have promised to be fiscally responsible. I am saying as a taxpayer I am expecting you to do that; not to have somebody come in at the eleventh hour and say they crunched numbers and came up with $3.9 million in overtime expense for an offsite range, but can’t guarantee you that the number will change and/or by how much if we get our own range. I am trying to protect my pocketbook (and that of other taxpayers).”

Dan Beutler: “I just want to verify that there is a proposed training room for the Depew range. Secondly, we have lost $350,000 in grant money because of the delay that has taken place in getting this project done. We are pointing fingers in every direction and playing the blame game. Let’s work together and get this done. We have spent a whole bunch of money on other town projects in the meanwhile.”

Chowaniec: “I would like to add one last thing so Chief Gill knows where we are coming from. The $350,000 grant money was originally set to expire in March 2009. I guess it had been bumped up to 2012. At no time was I informed, and others as well, that the building had to be up (constructed) before March of 2012 for the grant money to be viable. As recently as a few months ago, when we asked about the grant money, we were told it was still available and would be used expressly for the renovation and conversion of the police garage into a range. In fact, it was not available.”

“Chief Gill, I advocated for a new build from the get-go in 2003. I have been an avid supporter of the town having its own police force. I am not the bad guy here. I am just saying that I want to see fiscal responsibility.”

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