Re-opening of the Suffolk County Trap and Skeet Range

Just recently I attended the Suffolk County Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee which oversees the operation of the Suffolk County Trap & Skeet Range. A part of the agenda on December 15th, 2004 was a budget request by County Executive Steve Levy for $450,000.00 through the Presiding Officer of the County Legislature, Legislator Joseph T. Caracappa number IR-2244A for the Suffolk County Trap & Skeet Range. I was surprised to see no other sportsmen's organizations present to make sure this proposal was moved out of committee favorably to the full legislature. No matter, I was able to speak to most of the legislators on the committee, the Parks Department Commissioner, Mr. Ronald F. Foley and Deputy County Executive, Mr. Zwirn. We were all on the same page, anxious to get this money appropriated for the range remediation and upgrade so it could be opened quickly.

The reason it was important to get this appropriation now was because if it was not acted on before the end of this year we would need to start the budget process all over again delaying the opening of the range for another year or two. I am glad to report this budget item was reported out of committee favorably with 5 in favor, none opposed and one abstention, that being Legislator O'Leary.

On December 21st, 2004 the full Suffolk Legislature took up the bill IR-2244A and after much discussion it was passed, 17 in favor, none opposed and one abstention, that being Legislator O'Leary, who is the legislator for the district in which the range is located. Again I was surprised no other sportsmen's organizations were in attendance to help advance this bill. However, Bill Raab and James Kelly, members of the SAFE Board of Directors and me, made a number of comments on the record and in private conversations with the various legislators so they would know all the reasons why this project needs to move forward. By the vote you could say we were successful.

It only remains to be seen how quickly the Parks Department gets out a Request For Proposal (RFP) to possible vendors to take over the daily operation of the range. Any one interested should contact the Suffolk County Parks Department at; Suffolk County Department of Parks and Recreation and Conservation, P.O. Box 144 Montauk Highway, Oakdale NY 11796, phone number; 631-854-4949, fax number; 631-854-4978. We continue the need to be vigilant on this issue and regular phone calls and letters to the Suffolk County Parks Department requesting update information on the progress of the re-opening of the Suffolk County Trap & Skeet Range is perfectly in order and acceptable. Even those of you who do not live in Suffolk County but use the range are entitled to an answer of how soon will I be able to resume my shooting sport at this range? Also, a thank you letter or phone call to the County Executive's office and the County Legislators would be appreciated. You can find all the names and addresses and phone numbers here.

Re-opening of the Suffolk County Trap and Skeet Range
Stalled by County Government
I have personally spoken to County Executive Steve Levy, Deputy County Executive Paul Sabatino, County Legislators, Cameron Alden, Angie Carpenter, Jon Cooper, Michael Caracciolo, Jay Schneiderman, Vivian Viloria-Fisher, Daniel Losquadro, Brian Foley, William Lindsay, David Bishop, Peter O'Leary, Ricardo Montano, Elie Mystal and Presiding Officer of the County Legislature, Joseph Caracappa in the past couple of weeks regarding the reopening of the Suffolk County Trap & Skeet Range. Everybody but one has agreed that this is and should be a top priority of the County. If that were in fact true, why isn't it open now and bringing in much needed cash flow to the county?

Like many others I believed that all of the requirements for and objections about the reopening the Suffolk County Trap & Skeet Range had been met and as of the end of 2003 there would be definite movement in doing just that. Also, along with many others interested in seeing this Range reopen I attended every meeting of the Parks & Recreation Committee and every meeting of the full Suffolk County Legislature. The end result was an almost unanimous support for and vote by the Suffolk County Legislature for reopening this Range and exempting it from the low noise level standards adopted a number of years ago.

I commend the Suffolk County Legislature not only for voting to exempt this Range from these unrealistically low noise standards but for allocating all necessary funds to do what ever remedial work would be necessary to reopen this range as soon as possible. Because of this I find no fault with the County Legislature with one exception and that is "oversight". They have failed to make sure their mandate and their desire to reopen this profitable facility has in fact occurred in a timely fashion. I am now being told by people in the County Executives office, specifically Mr. Paul Sabatino, Chief Deputy County Executive, and a fellow by the name of Terry as well as the Parks Commissioner that the range will not reopen until 2005. This is completely UNACCEPTABLE and OUTRAGEOUS.

It is the only profitable facility that Suffolk County owns and it is enjoyed by thousands of resident tax payers as well as many non-resident Trap & Skeet Shooters from other counties. It does so mainly because there is no such type shooting facility available to the public in either Nassau County or New York City (all 5 boroughs). The longer the delay in reopening the Range the more costly it will become. As a tax paying voter in Suffolk County I don't want the added expense (because I pay for it). I want this issue resolved NOW! It must and should be the 1st PRIORITY of the Suffolk County Parks Department. It has been more than 6 months already since everything was approved to proceed.

While we have no real authority to request or demand this become the 1st PRIORITY of the Parks Department, we must all contact Mr. Ron Foley, Suffolk County Parks Commissioner at 631-854-4984 urging in the strongest terms, without being rude, to make the Suffolk County Trap & Skeet Range its first priority.

This range which was once run by county personal and I see no reason why it couldn't be again, at least until such time as there is a vendor to take over the operations of the facility. Even if that means the range will be open on a limited basis, it is better than not being open at all. However, this would require the County Parks Department to put out a Request For Proposal (RFP) so a vendor can be foundůsomething it has not done. The County could also allow a vendor to operate this range while upgrades or required maintenance is performed. Any and all upgrades or improvements to the range can be made while it is open and generating revenue to the County. After all, I continue to live in my home while major renovations are being done with no danger to the inhabitants or visitors.

When you call the Parks Department you will probably be told there are other factors such as; a Brookhaven Town noise ordnance which in my opinion has no affect on County owned property or an EPA requirement for cleanup of lead shot. This EPA requirement has always been the case and it has been routinely done by every vendor operating the range. It just happens to be a requirement that creates additional profit for the range and again, it can be done on the days the range is normally closed.

The one person who needs to be contacted most urgently, even by those who don't live in Suffolk County, is the County Executive, Mr. Steve Levy. He appointed the current Suffolk County Parks Department Commissioner. He is the one who has the authority to request (demand) that the reopening of the Range be the top priority item on the list of things to do by the Parks Department. After all, the Commissioner serves at the pleasure of the County Executive. The address, telephone and fax number for the Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy is; P.O. Box 6100, Hauppauge, NY 11788. Phone is; 631-853-4000, fax is; 631-853-4818.

Don't overlook the County Legislators; they are involved in this process. They too need to be contacted to request this Range be reopened as soon as possible. When contacting your County legislator you should ask the same thing; what's the delay? Why hasn't a Request For Proposal (RFP) been published so a possible new vendor can come in and get the range up and running? Only the County Executives office or the County Legislators can answer this question.