The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

A hike in fees at police firing range doesn’t comfort neighbors

In City Hall, Police Department on March 17, 2008 at 10:09 pm

All is quiet out on the eastern front of the city, out at Don Sedrel’s hobby farm along the Cedar River on Old River Road SE.

For the moment.

Next door, the Police Department’s regional outdoor firing range shuts down in January, February and March when the berm into which officers fire is frozen and can send bullets ricocheting.

“We have a lot of nice silence right now,” Sedrel  says.

But that will change with the weather, and the noise will start in again.

Do the math, he says. A shift of 40 officers shooting 200 rounds each is 8,000 rounds, says Sedrel, who has objected to what had been small police shooting range and what has become a busy, regional one with no noise buffers for those who live around it.

“People have no idea how much noise that is,” he says.

On Monday, Sedrel, a retired Cedar Rapids firefighter, was asked if he took at least a little bit of comfort knowing that the city is imposing increased fees on the outside agencies that now use the firing range. The noise will at least mean a little more revenue for the city to which he pays taxes.

“No, not at all,” he says of the new fees. “I’ve listened to it for 38 years. I’ve had everything from having a horse shot, to blowing up cars, to having a car hood land in my hay field.”

The new fees have prompted a letter of objection from the Iowa Medical Classification Center, the state prison in Oakdale in Johnson County.

In a letter to the city, Greg Ort, deputy warden, objects to a fee of $1,000 for the two months the prison’s security guards use the city range for training. He notes that the prison at Oakdale helped renovate the range with material, inmate labor and supervision several years ago with the thought the staff could use the range when needed.

“I am a resident of Cedar Rapids, I know that the city is experiencing some budget difficulty …” Ort says. ‘However, the agreement between the (prison) and the Cedar Rapids Police Department is a positive example of interagency cooperation, cost effective use of resources and protection of staff and the public. …”

Firing-range neighbor Sedrel doesn’t see it that way. And he says it’s not just the racket of relentless gunfire. He notes that new housing has gone up in the area in recent years, some of it down range from the shooting.

Bruce Kern, a Cedar Rapids police captain, notes that the increased fee at the range for the Oakdale prison is a single fee for all state agencies that use the range. All the law enforcement entities in Johnson County that use the range will pay one, similar increased fee under the new fee structure, Kern says.

In some part because of Sedrel’s complaints about the police range, the Linn County Sheriff’s Office has built a new outdoor gun range at the Matsell Bridge Natural Area north of Viola. The Marion Police Department, which does limited shooting at the Cedar Rapids range, also will be moving to the Matsell site.

The city of Iowa City also has been looking to establish its own gun range in Johnson County.

In addition, Sedrel has asked the state’s Office of Citizens’ Aide/Ombudsman to investigate safety, environmental and zoning issues related to the range. Sedrel says the state agency is currently discussing matters with the city. 

  1. The range was there long before most people moved into the area. It will take a citizen getting hurt by a stray bullet before the range will be closed. Maybe the City Council should take some of the millions they are going to spend on the downtown area and build a new range someplace much safer. Maybe the City should hire a consultant from Minnesota to look into the matter!!!!!!!

  2. No, it won’t. Iowa has range protection laws on the books now, so if people decide to make the poor choice of building a house down range of a shooting range, they do so at their own risk. It’s (still) a free country, and people are free to make stupid decisions =)

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