John Scarffe, Gilpin County. Gilpin County is seeking shooting range property. The Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners discussed their search for a shooting area during a regular meeting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, August 29, 2017, at the Gilpin County Courthouse. The Board heard a related proposal for hiring a community development director.
County Manager Leslie Klusmire proposed a community development director position for the County. “I absolutely do want that position. We have a lot of projects, and we need to do more research on our projects.” At some point we have to look at how we allocate costs and funding, she said.
“Does it make sense to transport inmates to Clear Creek County rather than expanding the jail?” Klusmire asked. “We are hiring for a grant person, and that hasn’t worked well.”
Klusmire suggested bringing that back in house, and the community development director would do the grants. The director also could be trained in another program that would save $20,000 by bringing a program in-house.
Board Chair Gail Watson said she has been aware of the all the functions needed from that office, and they’re not giving us what we need. A County shooting range has been a function of that office. Klusmire said she has a lot more potential for grants that person could work on.
Commissioner Linda Isenhart said they need to have an expert that can help guide the county. “I think it’s a great idea,” she said.
Klusmire said the County has to look at affordable housing. The pricing is going up and not down. Commissioner Ron Engels said that workforce housing is a huge issue.
The County needs to do more studies to find out what works, and all kinds of programs are available, Klusmire said. She said she will budget for this position.
Board Chair Gail Watson said a couple of developments have occurred regarding a shooting range in the County. Before the U.S. Forest Service allows any closures of Forest Service lands for target shooting, they will say the County must have a shooting range.
The Commissioners will be having meetings this fall with maps of proposed areas. They have four different maps to share with people related to sports shooting and not hunting.
“In order to have any closures of inappropriate areas, you will have to have a shooting range,” Watson said. The Sheriff’s Office could use a shooting range.
A couple of counties accomplished their goals through public/private partnerships. “We are trying to provide a range that is free,” Watson said. The Commissioners could apply for range grant funding to help build it.
The problem is where to put it, Watson said. They have been looking for four years and haven’t found a spot. They could find Bureau of Land Management land, which takes a while. A shooting range would be a reason for conveyance.
Watson suggested putting out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to make it public and state that this is a county need. “We are just looking for land so the County could then apply for grants. It would be more affordable for us.”
Commissioner Ron Engles asked if this would be posting something for a private land owner who wouldn’t know how to go through the process. Watson said this would be perfect for a community development director and suggested putting that on the back burner.
Watson said the County should have a sustainable Gilpin meeting. Nederland made a commitment to renewable energy. “I think we have to figure out how to make a firm commitment, and we need grassroots involvement for that. We need to let people know, whatever your expertise, join us and let’s have a larger effort.”
Engels said they should stir the pot and create a grassroots organization. Watson said: “We live on the planet and have to do the right thing. We need to have more conversations about this.”
Klusmire said she wants to look at alternative energy for housing projects. Watson said some of those things have never been incorporated into the policy. “I’m sure we could focus on some of these things if we had someone to really dig into it.”
(Originally published in the September 7, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)