San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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January 22nd, 2009
Court seeks shooting range funding

By SEAN BATURA

News Reporter

Hays County Commissioners expressed general agreement about the desirability of a countywide shooting range at Tuesday’s regular meeting. As is always the case with ambitious county projects, though, funding is the trick.

The county already is on the hook for $207 million in road bonds after a successful election in November, though the state has pledged to pay back up to $133.2 million. However, the county also wishes to build a new jail and a new administration building, and the property tax rate of 46 cents per $100 of value already approaches the 50-cent threshold that commissioners have set as a maximum during discussion about those projects.

“If you’re talking about 500 acres, then we’re talking about somewhere between $4 million and $8 million for purchasing that land,” said Hays County Precinct 4 Commissioner Karen Ford (D-Dripping Springs) said about the price tag for a shooting range. “I just want to make sure that we’re not setting an expectation that we’re not going to be able to deliver on.”

Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton (D-Kyle) said the court should consider that the actual size would be constrained by the topography of the land, even though the current concept for the complex had grown considerably since it’s inception.

Barton advised that the court task a citizens committee with formulating financing recommendations, adding that it might be possible for the county to acquire an abandoned quarry site from the private sector at no cost. Barton said he thinks the county should act as a “catalyst” that would bring “interested partners” together to collaborate on financing the shooting complex.

The court appointed members to a citizen committee tasked with finding a site for the Hays County Shooting Sports Complex, which will serve as a multi-discipline educational and safety training facility. The court also adopted bylaws for the committee.

The ten members of the committee are Stephen Marlow, Charles Catt, Richard Gillespie, Mark Bennett, John Sanford, Tomas Mijares, Herman Waters, Willy T. Ribbs, J.B. Kolodzey, and Gary Conner.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley (R-San Marcos) said he would consider using money from the Hays County Parks Fund to build the shooting complex project.

“I’m willing to (put) all options on the table, in seeing how we can put this together correctly to make this a reality in Hays County,” Conley said.

He recommended the motion to approve the bylaws and appoint committee members include a provision allowing the committee to receive help from county staff in finding a location for the shooting complex.

“If we build that design this properly, I am convinced that this will be another asset that will promote and that will build our tourism economy in Hays County, which is vitally important to the entire county,” Conley said. “I think every city and undeveloped area of the county has an interest in tourism — I know my precinct does.”

Ford later said outside the meeting that voters should determine if county money should be used for the shooting facility, though she repeated that she believes the facility should be built.

“I personally feel that our current parks and open space money should not be used for it because that’s not what the bond language said,” Ford said. “I sure would like for private money to make it happen, but it might need a little boost to get it.”

Ford likened the use of public money to build the shooting complex to using county funds for other recreational facilities like tennis courts and soccer fields.

“There’s really no downside to it, I don’t think, other than a noise factor for neighbors, and that’s always a concern, so it’s all about location, location, location,” Ford said.

During his testimony at the yesterday’s meeting, Marlow said Hays County staff has identified 86 pieces of property that were sufficiently large and and remote to spare residents the disturbance of hearing gunshots from the complex.

“The costs (of the citizen committee) really have been minimal,” Barton said. “Virtually all the work has been done by volunteers. I’ve spent a lot of time, and Commissioner Conley has have spent some time, and then we’re asking staff to make things like maps available and perhaps assist on grant applications. There’s no direct cost to the county, but there’ll be some small incidental costs for staff.”

Barton said the committee will publish a quarterly schedule to appear on the county’s website 15 days before each regular meetings, though the committee can hold special interim meetings.

“My understanding is that (the committee is) not required to be subject to open meetings law, but just as a matter of policy, we’re making the meetings open to the public,” Barton said.

Stephen Marlow, who has been named to Hays County’s citizens committee to look into a shooting range, discusses the matter with commissioners. Photo by Sean Batura.

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0 thoughts on “Court seeks shooting range funding

  1. This is right up there with the “dead body farm” …a shooting range bringing tourism to San Marcos?? Using funds that were voted to be used for our parks?? Please, Mr. Connelly…we are not all complete idiots……

  2. I believe this project is great idea. I would hope County funding would be minimal and we could find support from the private sector. As this area is becoming more urban, the need for proper firearm education and training is long over due.
    I further believe that if this project proceeds as proposed, it would be a big tourist draw given our proximity to both Austin and San Antonio. It is my understanding that the nearest comparable facility is located in the Houston area.

  3. IIRC, funding for “parks” is really designated for “recreational facilities”. A public shooting range is definately a “recreational facility”. But i’ll aggree with Craig; with the nearest comparable facility being in Houston, getting support from the private sector won’t be too hard.

  4. Private sector is where it belongs and as long as they follow the same noise ordinances that everyone else has to follow, I would have no problem with it. I grew up going to a “rifle range” on weekends with my loving but gun-happy father. I can attest first hand that this is male dominated “recreation.” and it was a miserable experience for Mom and us kids. I own a gun, for protection, but it tends to be men that like to shoot for fun. , and the only money it will bring into the city is when the riflemen all go to Montana Mikes to have a big steak afterwards.

    Bowling, is also recreation, and much more family oriented, and a big, publicly funded rec center that included a bowling alley would do a lot more for our tourist industry than a gun shooting facility. But at least so far most of us agree that this falls under private sector funding.

  5. We use tax payer parks money to provide for hikers, runners, soccer players, softball players, fishermen, campers, and golfers. Way not provide something for shooters

  6. Apologies to all, including Commissioner Conley: a typo rendered his quote a little hard to read.

    He did not say: “If we build that design this properly, I am convinced that this will be another asset that will promote and that will build our tourism economy…”

    He did say: “If we design this properly, I am convinced that this will be another asset that will promote and that will build our tourism economy…”

  7. Hey Craig. This is your big chance. Why don’t you write the first check to the County as a private individual and help make this project a reality – while also promoting your political ideals that government should not spend any money whatsoever!

  8. I say it is about time, as it will go a long way to increasing safety in Hays County. And those who believe the County shouldn’t be involved, and say that this should be done only within the private sector I ask that you consider following: Should the County Sheriff Deputies be halted from providing safety and traffic control assistance during the Lance Armstrong event held in Hays County? After all, Sheriff Department vehicles and fuel is used heavily in that event. For that matter, should the County not involve itself in ANY sport or recreational events, such as hiking and bike trails?

    In all honesty, I don’t personally like pointy helmeted bike riders clogging up RR 12, U.S. 290, and every other road we have in the County during the Lance Armstrong biking event, but I would never think to claim that the County should not use County equipment to provide safety and security for the riders in the “Livestrong” bike event.

    So if you really want to be fair, you’d be more than happy to see this complex be placed here in Hays County, as it will go a long, long way to increase safety in this county.

    Sincerely,
    Chuck

  9. To the people that believe this is just for men:

    Just letting you know I’m a San Marcos resident and 28 year old female that loves to shoot. I would definitely give this more thought. Growing up with a Dad that loved to hunt and shoot was a great past time memory for me. It also allows my Dad and I to get together and do things we both like. Not only would the rifle range help people learn firearm safety but it would benefit our city economy as well. The female shooting population is growing faster than ever. So I vote a big YES for the rifle range. Finally, something unique to bring visitors to San Marcos!

    I do not think a recreational center with a bowling alley would bring tourism and safety to our city as well as a rifle range would. We already have a bowling alley and an activity center so that just wouldn’t make as much sense to me personally.

  10. I believe this is a unique and workable idea that can not only bring recognition to Hays County,but revenue as well. There are over 20 million Hunters and shooting competitors in the US and a high percentage in Texas.
    The George Bush Park in Houston with the American Shooting Centers, The National Skeet-Sporting Clays Range in San Antonio and of course the Whittington-NRA Center in Raton , New Mexico are the closest and only
    active multi-activity areas available to the public. I compete in Sporting Clays and we have well over 1000 competitors in San Antonio events. The availability and training opportunities for 4H, Scouts, Firearms Safety Courses,practice and competitive events have a very high need in this area.

  11. I totally agree with Leighton Stallones above. When I lived in Houston, my husband and I had fun being together shooting sporting clays. I learned gun safety, my children learned gun safety, eye hand coordination, and patience. I am sorry that the woman who was dragged by her dad had such a horrible experience, but if she had learned to shoot instead of being dragged to watch, she might have a different view. There are thousands of women nationwide that like to skeet shoot, hunt, and compete. This would bring Hays County into the light of being a future contendor to sponsor competitive events and revenue to the County would benefit everyone. Shooting Sports are not just for men! The opportunity of having gun safety classes for everyone at different ages is the best educational experience anyone can have. Learning respect for firearms is something most people don’t think about. Our 4H kids at one time wanted a shooting team, but couldn’t get one together and there was no range to shoot. What better way to introduce gun safety, competition, and fun for whole families. Have you every watched a sporting clay competition? It is amazing! I’ll spend my weekends at the new complex as soon as it opens.

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