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Why the NRA is urging gun owners to attend a Rancho Cordova parks meeting

Gary Crain of Folsom fires his WWI vintage 1903 Springfield rifle at the Cordova Shooting Center on Thursday, June 8, 2017 in Rancho Cordova, Calif. The Cordova Recreation and Park District wants to end the center’s operating agreement with the city because of high maintenance costs and its poor fit with suburban growth.
Gary Crain of Folsom fires his WWI vintage 1903 Springfield rifle at the Cordova Shooting Center on Thursday, June 8, 2017 in Rancho Cordova, Calif. The Cordova Recreation and Park District wants to end the center’s operating agreement with the city because of high maintenance costs and its poor fit with suburban growth. The Sacramento Bee

Another older, rural business is proving an awkward fit with Rancho Cordova’s suburban growth.

In 2013, neighbors complained about a smelly rendering plant that had operated for years outside the city’s urban boundary. This time, officials want to end the lease with the company running the Cordova Shooting Center.

Both businesses once sat alone amid acres of open space but now have hundreds of homes as neighbors, with many more to come.

The National Rifle Association has gotten involved and is urging gun owners to attend Monday’s special meeting of the Cordova Recreation and Park District’s board of directors. The board members are scheduled to decide whether to end a nearly 40-year-old arrangement with Marksmanship Consultants, the operators of the Cordova Shooting Center.

District staff members have recommended they do so. District Administrator Patrick Larkin originally said the recommendation is based partly on the cost of rehabilitating the aging gun range, which needs safety upgrades, and partly on the city’s ambitious growth plans in the area of Sunrise Boulevard and Douglas Road.

“It has nothing to do with whether we like it or not, because if we didn’t like it, it wouldn’t have been out there in the first place,” Larkin said. “That’s not even an issue. The problem is truly that it’s safety. It’s financial. And there’s also thinking more futuristically with the fact that there’s more development coming in across the street from this property.”

“For us not to address this at this time, in my opinion, would be irresponsible,” he added.

Then, on Thursday, in an apparent about-face, Larkin said the Douglas Road facility could remain a shooting range. Opting to not renew the lease only ends the contract with Marksmanship Consultants and doesn’t close the range, he said. The park district could let other operators bid on taking it over.

Pat Glaze, the vice president of Marksmanship Consultants, opposes the move. He said the park district is looking to get a better offer elsewhere.

Five years ago, the district sought bids to run the shooting center. Glaze said his company and only one other firm showed interest.

Larkin initially said the facility needs expensive renovations to replace older structures and make it accessible to people with disabilities – money the district doesn’t want to spend there. The park district has other priorities, including building a new pool in Hagan Community Park, near the American River, he said.

The shooting center’s baffles – the plywood, steel and gravel barriers that keep bullets contained – are in need of repair. An accessible bathroom needs to be added. And a lead containment operation must be performed to ensure lead levels aren’t rising and that lead isn’t escaping the property.

The estimated cost of the upgrades is more than $2 million, Larkin said.

He said that was the main reason why he recommended that directors not renew an agreement with Marksmanship Consultants, which has operated the gun range since 1979. The current contract runs through June 2018.

Glaze said that estimate is inaccurate because contractors did not bid on renovating the facility. “The park district didn’t authorize final plans for the renovation so no contractor could or would bid on it. The $2 million was a recommendation from the architect, and it contains a lot of unknowns,” he said.

The city’s development is another priority. A new shopping center anchored by a Raley’s supermarket soon will open just down the street from the shooting center. Much more residential and retail construction is planned for the Sunrise-Douglas area, including several major subdivisions.

The Anatolia subdivision, with more than 1,900 homes and an elementary school, is only about a third of a mile away.

Residents there and in other new housing tracts filed hundreds of complaints four years ago about the Sacramento Rendering Company, where animal carcasses, butcher scraps and restaurant grease are recycled into usable products.

Those who lived downwind from the plant complained about the smell and expressed concerns about air quality and pollution. The plant is still there.

Glaze said making the range move could be costly, too.

The city will face significant costs to clean up and remove the lead on the property, from $150,000 to $800,000, according to a May 17 presentation to the board.

It will also lose the shooting center’s $1,500 a month in rent and the $5 fee each of its 33,000 visitors pay - or approximately $183,000 per year, Glaze said.

“It will be very expensive,” Glaze said. “They don’t have a thorough understanding of what it will cost.”

Molly Sullivan: 916-321-1175, @SullivanMollyM

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