Suffolk range will stay open, but lawsuit lingers

Staff report

Yaphank, N.Y. – Suffolk County lawmakers have shot down a
resolution calling for the closure of a shooting range here in
Southaven County Park.

A lawsuit seeking to shut down the range still lingers, but
Suffolk County legislators voted 15-3 last month to keep the skeet-
and trap-shooting range open.

In doing so, they rejected a resolution brought forth by
Legislator Kate Browning of Shirley, who had sought to close the
range, citing lead contamination concerns.

The decades-old range had closed in 2001 and reopened in July.
Some residents near the range voiced concerns over potential lead
contamination as well as noise from the range. A group opposed to
the range has filed a lawsuit to shut it down, contending it
amounts to ‘prohibited development’ in the area.

Browning introduced her resolution in June, after legislators
had already voted to spend money to refurbish and reopen the

The vote came following a lengthy legislative session that
lasted after midnight. A small group of supporters of the range
stayed for the outcome and burst into applause following the

Fourteen-year-old shooting enthusiast Kristen Hachmann of
Jericho spoke in support of the range, calling it as important ‘as
any other public playground, fishing pier or golf course.’

The range is also the lone handicapped-accessible range in the
county, said Edward Kaspshak of Bay Shore.

Browning’s resolution said the range was located in the
environmentally sensitive Carman’s River Watershed in the ‘Core
Preservation Area’ of the Long Island Pine Barrens. She advocated
targeting another site outside that area for potential development
as a shooting range.

Her resolution also called for the creation of an exploratory
committee – comprised of two Suffolk County legislators, two
members of the ‘environmental community,’ two members of the
sporting community and two others selected by the county executive
– to identify other potential sites for a range.

New York State Rifle & Pistol Association President Thomas
King said the range issue ‘has been an ongoing battle, and we’ve
won it three or four times.’

King called Shirley ‘a real anti-gunner who has sworn she will
not rest until the range is closed. We have to take an aggressive
stance on this, and I think the county has to take a look at this
and ask, ‘when does this become harassment?”

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