Environmentalists target Chicago PD gun range

Citing the potential for lead and noise pollution, eco-warriors hang a a bull's-eye on range plans

By Frank Main
The Chicago Sun-Times

CHICAGO — Environmental groups have put a bull's-eye on Southeast Side landfill property the Chicago Police Department hopes to develop into an outdoor firearms range for its officers.

The city is proposing to build the range in a landfill at 134th and Jeffery near the Calumet River. City officials are negotiating a lease with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and plan to start operating the range in the spring, Chicago Police Sgt. Ray Hamilton said.

Hamilton said the nearest city neighborhood is about a mile away and the nearest suburbs are about three-quarters of a mile away. Studies have shown the range wouldn't create noise problems for those residents, he said.

The plan is to build an earthen wall at least 20 feet high and fire bullets into it, Hamilton said. A front-end loader would periodically excavate several feet of soil and the bullets would be sifted from the earth to prevent the possibility of lead leaching into ground water, Hamilton said.

But the Southeast Environmental Task Force didn't know about the proposal until it was placed on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District's agenda in June, said Peggy Salazar, the task force's interim director.

The task force has sent letters to the city's Department of Environment and to police Supt. Jody Weis with questions about possible noise and lead pollution, Salazar said. She also said the task force envisioned the property becoming open land for recreational use.

Copyright 2010 Chicago Sun-Times, Inc.

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