SEABROOK — Kensington officials who attended a Seabrook selectmen meeting Monday expressed concern with the possible reopening of the town firing range, which has been closed since a stray bullet hit a nearby hardware store in March 2018.
The Gun Range Committee, which will oversee the firing range for now, has established several measures to address selectmen’s safety concerns, among other issues, so the Seabrook firing range can reopen. Some of the land the range sits on is in Kensington.
Kensington Police Chief Scott Cain and Selectwoman Vanessa Rozier voiced their concerns about safety, businesses abutting the range and environmental impacts. Kensington will continue to have a voice as the committee continues to improve safety standards and management at the firing range.
Rozier provided a letter to Seabrook selectmen and the committee that she read at the meeting. Rozier noted that she wants to understand the history of the range’s use since it opened in the 1980s.
“We asked that the Town of Seabrook provide us with any documentation as to the approval from the Town of Kensington if it was required at that time,” Rozier said. “We have not had the opportunity to look at the zoning regulations that were in place at that time. We would just like to see that provided to us. We did go down and see if we could find anything using our hard records, and we could not (find anything).”
Kensington officials also want to make sure an abutter of the range, CP Building Supply at 268 Amesbury Road, is able to receive feedback from the committee on how its property is being kept safe. Cain noted that although he wasn’t the police chief at the time, the stray bullet that struck the window pane was not the first time an incident like that happened.
“There were multiple occasions where they were taking shots off the building that we have documentation on,” Cain said. “It just wasn’t pursued until one went through a window.”
Rozier said she wants committee members to consider any federal, state and local laws on firing range safety in addition to the range’s environmental impacts. The group will also work with the state Department of Environmental Services since the range is located near the town’s water treatment facility, committee Chair Don Felch said. The committee will purchase three bullet traps to reduce the impact of pollution, he added.
“I think you spoke to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and I myself have reached out to NHDES,” Rozier said. “I’m still in the process of doing some research on the environmental implications of the firing range and I understand there may be different environmental implications based on whether or not the firing range is operational, so I’d like to make sure that everybody is in full understanding of what those guidelines are.”
Cain said one of the main concerns for Kensington is that the firing range wasn’t being monitored properly. Town officials previously reported there were sloppy sign-in sheets and there was not always a custodian on staff overseeing the range. Even when the range was closed, Cain noted, “People were still out there shooting.”
“We can’t determine who was out there shooting at one point,” Cain said. “That’s one of those things with our concern is safety, for one, and who is going to regulate that all the time. If you have cameras, that’s one of the safety steps I’m seeing that looks great.”
To read a previous story on the issue, visit https://www.newburyportnews.com/news/local_news/seabrook-firing-range-on-track-to-reopen/article_18334068-b901-5201-81f0-5992d514818b.html
Staff writer Amanda Getchell covers Newburyport and Seabrook. Follow her on Twitter @ajgetch.