Shooting range faces delay

A proposed 8,900-square-foot firing range will not be built by the time the new Bodden Town Emergency Services Centre opens in 2009.

The emergency centre will include a 27,000-square-foot building to house a new headquarters for the Cayman Islands Fire Service, a new police station, and administrative offices and dispatch location for the island’s emergency medical services.

Assistant Deputy Chief Secretary Eric Bush said the shooting range is in the long term plans for the facility’s 10-acre site, but he said it has been left out of the $10 million first phase of the centre’s construction. Mr. Bush could not give a specific date on when the shooting range might be completed.

‘This will be at the discretion of Cabinet and will be further considered once the first phase in progressed,’ Mr. Bush said last week.

The planned firing range would give the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service a purpose-built indoor sound-proof facility to train officers in the proper use of firearms. The range is not expected to be open to the public.

The creation of the police firing range was also envisioned as a first step toward removing the Gun Club’s outdoor firing range from the property next to Owen Roberts International Airport.

Public Works planning documents obtained by the Caymanian Compass in June revealed designer’s concerns about the location of that open air shooting range.

‘The site is uncontained and has no way of preventing stray shots from going beyond the boundaries of the site,’ public works staff wrote in the planning document.

Those fears were confirmed by Tourism Minister Charles Clifford in an earlier interview.

‘Clearly it’s not appropriate to have a gun club range in proximity to the airport,’ Mr. Clifford said. (Compass, 12 June) ‘A decision has been taken to relocate it.’

It now appears that relocation won’t happen until at least the later stages of 2009, or even 2010, depending on what future Cabinet members decide.

Moving the police training facility away from the airport is not the only issue concerning firing range safety. Government officials have said private members of the Cayman Islands Gun Club would not be able to use the Bodden Town firing range when it does open.

That leaves the Gun Club looking for a new home.

Mr. Clifford has previously said he’d like to move the Gun Club’s shooting range to another outdoor location on island. He said he did not want to disparage the club, which he felt was a responsible organisation.

However, Gun Club members have previously told the Compass that moving to a new site could be costly, and that no new potential locations for an outdoor firing range had been identified.