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Shooting range plan draws concerns from neighbors

Residents of a southeast Oklahoma City neighborhood say a shooting range on public land near their homes threatens the environment, is a bad financial deal and will be noisy.
BY WILLIAM CRUM wcrum@opubco.com Published: February 15, 2013

/articleid/3756007/1/pictures/1955255">Photo - Carolyn Pimsler holds lead shot shells that will be used at a proposed skeet shooting range on SE 119th near Lake Stanley Draper in Oklahoma City, Friday February  08, 2013. Local residents have concerns about noise and the lead shot contaminating the water in the area. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman
Carolyn Pimsler holds lead shot shells that will be used at a proposed skeet shooting range on SE 119th near Lake Stanley Draper in Oklahoma City, Friday February 08, 2013. Local residents have concerns about noise and the lead shot contaminating the water in the area. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman

“Our concerns started as a NIMBY case, but … our objections have become much broader,” Pimsler, a medical doctor said. “I think we see a bigger picture and truly believe the city should strongly reconsider getting into this business at all.”

Opponents of the new location argue tons of lead will fall to the ground, where it could leach into surface and groundwater — not a good idea, they say, in a future drinking water reservoir.

Lead shot lying on the ground also could be consumed by waterfowl, poisoning the birds and making them easy pickings for predators, they say.

Eagles are particularly vulnerable to lead in the food chain, said veterinarian Roger Harlin, Pimsler's husband and a member of the Association of Avian Veterinarians.

Opponents also have concluded the city's cost of $116,855 to renegotiate Martin's lease won't be recouped through rent payments for years, if ever.

Then there's noise.

Pimsler and Harlin have a deck overlooking a pond at their house.

Everyone expects they'll hear gunfire when they sit outside.

The question is: How loud is too loud?

The city contracted for a “noise impact” test and found barking dogs were louder than gunfire at a test site closest to Meadowlakes.

Still, the city is requiring Quail Ridge to take measures to mitigate noise through course design and installation of shooting stands.

For now, Martin is on a month-to-month lease on SE 149 and said the uncertainty “is costing money with some of the bigger shoots.”

He said he's also on the hook for cleaning up the lead at his present site.

Waiting and unhappy

White said he's awaiting a decision from Tinker as to “whether or not it would be feasible” to move the range to a spot farther south and east from Meadowlakes.

He said he's satisfied lead shot left on the ground can be cleaned up without endangering the water supply.

Recreational activities in West Elm Creek, including an off-road vehicle track and horseback riding, are not intended to be moneymakers for the city, he said.

And while he's “not a gun guy,” White said he's convinced shooting is a popular sport, and “Oklahoma City has the ability to accommodate it where a lot of other cities cannot.”

Ralph Monson, the public affairs officer at Tinker, said Friday that base officials were reviewing a land-use request from Oklahoma City officials.

After collecting 79 signatures opposing relocation that she feels were disregarded, Pimsler is unhappy with the whole process.

Then there's the prospect of gunfire over coffee in the morning.

“We felt bullied and have had to incur significant expenses to defend ourselves,” she said. “We're saying they're taking the quiet enjoyment of our property.”


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