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Cape Elizabeth shooting range changes taking shape

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Cape Elizabeth shooting range changes taking shape

CAPE ELIZABETH — The Spurwink Rod and Gun Club has begun construction to improve safety and reduce noise, but the town has yet to hire a safety evaluator. 

The town issued a request for qualifications seeking a safety evaluation of the shooting range. The request seeks bids from providers who wish to complete the evaluation of the gun club, much like a construction bid. 

The deadline for bids is Jan. 28 at 2 p.m., and according to gun club President Tammy Walter, no applications had been submitted as of Jan. 21. She said she is unsure what the town will do if no bids are submitted to perform the safety evaluation required by the town's new firing range ordinance.

Although the firing range committee and the gun club had expected to have the evaluation completed by now, the club hasn't waited to move forward with construction. The Sawyer Road club shut down from Dec. 8 to Jan. 12 so work could be done. 

Three new concrete walls have been built to contain bullets, and rubber material has been added as backstops to targets. The rubber material, which also runs along the concrete walls, is in its "third life," according to former gun club President Mark Mayone. It was originally used for conveyor belts.

The amount of rubber the club purchased is equivalent to 6,000 tires, Mayone said. The pile of it used as a backstop is 8 feet deep and Mayone said the club's highest caliber bullets will be stopped about two feet into the pile. Lower caliber bullets can only make it about six inches in.

"Not only is (the rubber) non-reflective of sound, it's absorbent of bullets," Mayone said.

The club will use a machine to collect and recycle the bullets.

The recent construction was partially paid for with a $28,000 grant that the club received in October from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Money was also gathered through fundraising, and the total cost of the recent construction was $38,000.

The construction was done by Dick and Jeff Greenleaf of Scarborough, and Skip Murray of Cape Elizabeth. Tim Lindsay of Bartlett Tree Experts in Scarborough also helped by donating equipment. 

Mayone and Walter said about 50 percent of the construction is now complete and the rest will be done when more money is raised. Baffles still need to built above the concrete walls to contain bullets, and the ground needs to be leveled with fill.

"We're looking for builders in the area who have clean fill to donate," Mayone said.

He said the best way to reach the club about making a donation is through its Facebook page.

The club also needs to build a new shooting shed to decrease noise.

"To get as much sound mitigation as possible, we're looking at spending $40,000 to $60,000 for the shed," Mayone said.

Mayone and Walter said neighbors in Cross Hill, who have complained about noise and safety problems, have offered to donate money for the shed. Mayone said he is unsure when or if this will actually happen.

Walter said she hopes the neighbors appreciate what the club has done so far to make the range safer and quieter.

"A few of them will never be happy no matter what we do, but I do hope this makes them happier," Walter said. "I hope they have a greater sense of safety, even though it was already safe."

The next firing range committee meeting is scheduled for Feb. 4. Sound engineer Stephen Ambrose, who completed a noise study for the club in October, is scheduled to speak with the committee.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3361 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.