The city of Jonesboro and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission are hoping to build a state of the art, $12 million shooting range, and could recoup some of the cost by charging the public to use the range.
Jonesboro has committed $1 million toward the project, and environmental studies are being conducted on 300-acres near the confluence of Moore Road and Interstate 555, according to the city. The city has agreed to buy the land for $1.2 million, if it passes environmental muster, Jonesboro Communications Director Bill Campbell told Talk Business and Politics.
“We’re are in the very preliminary stages,” Campbell said. “This will be a piecemeal project. It will be done in phases.”
City officials have committed money to the project, but no money will be taken out of other departments or programs to cover the city’s portion, Mayor Harold Perrin said. The project will be funded by a 75/25 formula, meaning AGFC will pay 75% while the city will foot the rest.
The complex, when complete, will have nine trap fields, and three skeet shooting overlays, Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott said in April. An archery pond and a fishing lake will also be constructed.
A construction timetable to has not been set, but officials had tentatively hoped to have the range completed by the end of 2017. Campbell said he didn’t know how realistic that would be, and that city officials and AGFC are slated to meet next week to discuss grants and other issues.
Local law enforcement officers will be able to use the range for training the first two days of the week, and those days will also be dedicated to cleanup and maintenance. The complex will be open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, and will be operated by the city.
Perrin told Talk Business and Politics that the shooting range is necessary.
“We’ve got to move our firing range off Craighead Forest. Residential housing has been growing right up to the range,” Perrin said. “We’ve been hearing from the entire city that schools are competing in trap and archery … but they have no place to practice. We’ve also learned that firing ranges bring a lot of revenue in tourism through tournaments.”
Perrin and other officials visited a similar shooting range in Jacksonville, and were impressed by its operation, and how much revenue it generates, Campbell said. It has not been determined how much the public will be charged to use the shooting range, or if memberships will be offered, Campbell said. Most of the money generated would be dedicated toward the operating expenses, officials said. How many full and part-time workers the range will employ has not been determined.
The city will ultimately have to come up with another $2 million to complete the project, and it won’t be paid in a lump sum, Campbell said. Because of that, it may take longer to finish.
City leaders will try to find other grants to help pay for the range in the coming year, Campbell said.
“We think this could turn into a big opportunity for the city of Jonesboro,” Campbell said
AGFC has a $2 million grant for the project this year, according to information released. That grant and the city’s initial investment will be used to buy the land and the rest will be used to build roads, and do site work.
At least one resident near the proposed shooting range has expressed concerns about the project, but no one else has voiced any issues, Campbell said. It’s not known how long the environmental study will take, or even if the proposed site will pass.