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Update: Chabot Gun Club Debate Turnout

November 4, 2015

 Chabot Gun Club Debate Draws Full House

by Dennis Cuff dcuff@bayareanewsgroup.com

OAKLAND — As they prepare to decide the fate of a 52-year-old shooting range in the hills above Castro Valley, East Bay parks officials received impassioned pleas Tuesday from those on both sides of the debate.

More than 50 people addressed the East Bay Regional Park District, ahead of the board’s discussion on whether to renew the Chabot Gun Club’s lease at Anthony Chabot Regional Park beyond Dec. 31.

“Most people go to the park for serenity, but gun noise and serenity don’t match,” Amanda Johnson, a park neighbor, told the board.

But others said the 62-acre shooting range in Castro Valley — the only one in the park district — should be kept open to offer a variety of recreational options in the 112,000-acre park system that is mostly open space.

Albert Bolla of Dublin, Calif., from left, Tommy Balistreri, of Castro Valley, and his dad Andrew chat at the Chabot Gun Club in Castro Valley, Calif., on

Albert Bolla of Dublin, Calif., from left, Tommy Balistreri, of Castro Valley, and his dad Andrew chat at the Chabot Gun Club in Castro Valley, Calif., on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. The shooting range is currently looking to extend their lease with the East Bay Regional Park District amid concerns about lead cleanup costs and continuing complaints about noise. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) (ANDA CHU)

“The range is a very valuable resource,” said Chris Goodroe of Oakland. “I urge you to consider the diversity of recreation.”

Some Oakland residents said it is important for law-abiding residents to be trained in safe use of firearms to protect themselves against criminals with guns.

Board members expressed reservations that the park system can afford to keep a gun range that is in jeopardy of becoming a burden on taxpayers.

“Park concessions are supposed to be revenue neutral or provide some revenue to the district,” said John Sutter, a board member from Oakland.

The club draws about 41,000 public visitors a year and 6,000 law enforcement officers. It contributes about $80,000 a year to the park district based on a percentage of its revenues.

The club reported profits of $66,623 in 2012 and $18,232 in 2013 but suffered a net loss of $121,479 in 2014. Last year’s loss was linked to higher costs for environmental compliance, insurance, and record keeping, according to a park report.

Sutter said the range serves a valuable function, but tougher environmental rules have put the gun range in a financial bind.

The Sierra Club and Audubon Society have urged the board to close the club because of extensive lead contamination in soil and water from lead shots. Club critics also say the shooting range noise annoys park neighbors and park hikers and joggers and disrupts the lives of birds and other wildlife.

Addressing the board, Glenn Kirby of the Sierra Club said the range should be closed to limit lead contamination.

“The gun range is not environmentally or financially sustainable,” said Kirby, a Hayward resident.

Park officials estimate it could cost some $2.5 million over five years to manage polluted stormwater runoff if the club stays open.

The club doesn’t have that much money, park officials said, and cleaning up the site could be even more expensive the longer the park stays open.

Club officials, however, say they want to renew their lease so they can manage the contamination.

The club has hired a stormwater pollution expert but needs more time to plan and refine strategies, especially given stricter state stormwater pollution permit requirements this year.

Some gun club critics say postponing closure will worsen the lead contamination. The park district is going to get stuck with the lead cleanup costs anyway because the gun club can’t afford it, environmentalists say.

Park staffers said they will meet with gun club representatives to discuss lead-containment measures before the board considers whether to extend the gun club’s lease. No date was set.

Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff

Click here for the original article in the Contra Costa Times.

 Chabot Gun Club Debate Draws Full House

by Dennis Cuff dcuff@bayareanewsgroup.com

OAKLAND — As they prepare to decide the fate of a 52-year-old shooting range in the hills above Castro Valley, East Bay parks officials received impassioned pleas Tuesday from those on both sides of the debate.

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