A shooting range on private property on Springtown Road is being argued by residents and business owners of New Paltz as dangerous and potentially dangerous.
“We hear shooting five to six days a week at different times throughout the day and, even more dangerous, after dark as well,” according to a letter signed by Springtown Road residents and business owners. “We report hearing noises that sound like bombs and semi–automatic weapons and, at times, unending volleys.”
This property, between Kleinkill and Dug Road, on the east side of Springtown Road, is being used as an unofficial and unregulated shooting range. According to Town Supervisor Neil Bettez, the first official complaint he received was at a town board meeting on Sept. 20 but residents say that this has been a problem for years.
“We want to make sure that people are safe on their own property and that they’re not overly burdened by what their neighbors may do,” he said.
According to Bettez, most of the complaints received have been noise complaints, but some residents have expressed concern for their safety.
“We have noise ordinances, you’re allowed to shoot on your own property but you’re not allowed to make so much noise that it’s a bother to your neighbors,” he said. “So we are looking into how to figure out how to make sure that the noise ordinances are enforceable.”
New Paltz Police Chief Joe Snyder stated that the property is not designed to be a shooting range and could create a dangerous situation. Although there is a large pile of dirt that is used for the back stop, there is property just beyond this where owners work and spend leisure time.
According to the letter, New Paltz Biking, New Paltz Kayaking and across the Wallkill River from the New Paltz Golf Course and two restaurants, Upstairs On Nine and Garvan’s are all in the near vicinity of the shooting range and business owners are concerned for the safety of their patrons. Additionally, business owners are concerned with the noise impacting their businesses.
Snyder said that he is in favor of restricting the property because so many people use it and he does believe it has become a nuisance. He added that the town needs to amend or clarify the noise ordinance law so that New Paltz Police Department (NPPD) is able to enforce it.
“The way the noise ordinance reads now, it is difficult to separate noise from those target practicing, hunting or just shooting a lot of ammunition in a short time period,” Snyder said. “So to charge someone that may have just arrived to this location and fired a couple rounds is difficult. It would be the same as charging someone hunting if they fired too many rounds at the attended target.”
If the property owner has cooperated with restricting use to at least people they know, it would cut back a great deal of property use and may be a non-issue, according to Snyder. However, after speaking with NPPD, the property owner was not willing to make that agreement to take that action.
“I think this comes down to being courteous to your neighbors when you see this is a major issue and concern,” Snyder said. “It is not just one family in the area that is complaining, it is the entire area and even business across the river.”
Bettez stated that New Paltz has several local gun ranges in town that have been following safety regulations for decades. The town board does not want to take any action that will also affect these shooting ranges since they have never had a complaint or problem with these establishments.
Springtown Road residents and business owners also highlighted the existence of a safe, organized shooting range called The New Paltz Rod and Gun Club in the letter. They questioned the practicality of one unofficial gun range that has no signage, no regulations and no safeguards when a local, safe, regulated option already exists.
“We have no idea who is using this range or whether or not they have had proper training,” the letter said. “There is no fencing to keep people out and no protective barriers that we know of in place.”