Range shouldn’t have opened

Long Island Advance June 24, 2010

On June 16, the Pine Barrens Commission (PBC) declared that the reopening of the Suffolk County Trap & Skeet Range constitutes “development” under Article 57 of the Pine Barrens Protection Act of 1993. The South Yaphank Civic Association has argued this point since before the reopening of the range and has been met with resistance all the way, particularly by those in power who shepherded the range back into existence.

The election of Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko, along with two new East End supervisors (Riverhead and Southampton) brought change to the “old thinking” and it was Lesko who quickly grasped the issue and lent his support to bring the issue to a vote of the commission. New York State Environmental Conservation Law, the Pine Barrens Protection Act of 1993 as well as Brookhaven Town law all, for various reasons, clearly prohibited the reopening of the Suffolk County Trap & Skeet Range yet the county chose to reopen the range anyway.

Though much of the reasoning for this surely had a political bent, the primary factor influencing the Suffolk County Legislature’s decision to reopen was sadly one of misinformation. Over the years, a host of “reasons” were offered to the decision-makers as to why the range needs to reopen, such as: The range was here first, the range was not abandoned, there’s nowhere else to put it, the range is exempt from noise ordinances along with a host of other contentions—none of which were true. The legislature was clearly more enthralled than enlightened by those whom they regarded as “experts.” The red flags were everywhere, the facts were overwhelming, yet they didn’t see the truth because they allowed passionate overture to supersede fact and reality. At the time, we didn’t know what was more remarkable—that so many issues were raised or that everyone associated with reopening the range simply ignored every one of them.

But now there’s a chance to fix all of that. To those who voted to reopen the range based solely on political gain; shame on you.

But to those who voted to reopen based upon what they were led to believe was factual information, now is the time to correct that mistake. Too much taxpayer money has been spent already trying to prove a negative and it makes no sense to throw even more good money after bad chasing after appeals or “hardship exemptions.”

While it is quite possible that this shooting range may very well be able to exist at another location, it clearly cannot exist where it is now and it’s time to do something about that.

John Palasek