The town of Beloit has a shooting range that has been utilized by our police department for the last several years, if not decades. This is not the creation of something that doesn’t exist; it is the possible improvement of an existing facility. The costs of the proposed facility are unknown. I was asked what I thought might be the costs of such a facility and replied that a project like this may cost anywhere up to $250,000. However, this is only my best guess and has been taken out of context.
Town staff have investigated updating the current facility since mid-2017 as this range shares a 105-acre site with the future public works roads facility to be constructed this year. We initially looked at safety and functionality concerns which blossomed into possible regional cooperation. The town has two police officers specially trained to provide firearm and safety instruction at the range. They met with Rock County Sheriff’s Office deputies and other law enforcement agencies, and a preliminary concept was created.
Due to timing of the proposed work in conjunction with construction of the public works facility, it is believed the earthen berm for the range can be constructed from the spoils of land-grading activities. This would save money on the public works facility and provide free berms for the range as opposed to paying for the project separately. Alliant Energy has stated that it would be happy to donate used power poles in significant quantities for use as baffles, etc. This is also a large savings. Town staff has already identified several grants, in-kind and monetary donations that would help with construction and several staff (including myself) have offered to help in the construction to offset costs. All these factors, along with prudent phasing of construction activities, would offset a very large portion of costs.
To help in the grant and donation process, the town sent packets to several law enforcement agencies in the region, including the cities of Beloit and Janesville, to gauge interest and garner support. The city of Janesville does currently have an indoor and outdoor range that is available for an hourly fee. The town’s proposal would be for a regional facility where agencies would be members and able to sign up to use the range without a per-hour fee. This would save money and allow them to have ownership instead of renting time.
How is this divisive, especially considering that the town is inviting virtually all regional agencies to participate?
Why is this so politicized?
I think the answer to those questions is clear. It is very interesting to have witnessed the reaction over the last two years from the region concerning the town’s progress. The town is moving forward. We are making remarkable strides in improving services to our community and surrounding areas, working with agencies to help the entire region improve and developing infrastructure, industry and tax base.
We are seeking to incorporate as a village to ensure the community survives and thrives in the future. It is just amazing to me how so many positive items for the region (and they are positive) can be attacked just for having upset the status quo. The cities of Janesville and Beloit are important communities in Rock County, but they aren’t the only communities in Rock County. We must be doing something right.