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'I Want It Gone': People Speak Out On CPD Gun Range In Evendale

evendale gun range
Courtesy of WCPO
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Cincinnati police shooting range in Evendale as seen from WCPO's helicopter.

A Cincinnati Council committee heard testimony Tuesday evening about the negative impacts the city police department gun range in Evendale is having on that village as well as on nearby Lincoln Heights and Woodlawn.

Council members saw different videos with the sound of gun fire coming from the facility. 

In one, a little boy is outside covering his ears with his hands and heading inside his house because of the gun fire. 

In another, a mother is narrating with the sound of gun fire behind her and wondering how her children are supposed to nap with all the noise.

"I want the thing gone ASAP," said Lincoln Heights Vice Mayor Jeannie Stinson. "I want the gun range gone. Bottom line it's awful for my families that's in my community, the people that come to work are afraid to come to work, and I simply want it gone."

Council members also heard the science of noise and its effect on the health and mental well-being of nearby residents.

University of Cincinnati Assistant Professor Brian Earl described his visit to Lincoln Heights. He said he was able to be an "ear witness."

"We have what is called an acoustic reflex that starts to trigger when our bodies are telling us it's too much," Earl said. "My ears were doing that as my eyes widened and my ears were fluttering."

Earl said he offered to provide ear plugs to some Lincoln Heights residents.

There's also likely significant lead pollution on the gun range property and the possibility of lead poisoning to those nearby.

"As far as I'm aware, the grounds that the gun range are on have not been tested for lead," said Renee Mahaffey Harris, the president and CEO of the Center for Closing the Health Gap. "But just with the descriptions I've shared, with a gun range that's been in and surrounding a neighborhood over 80 years, we can only imagine the impacts of lead to that community."

Mahaffey Harris said gun ranges receive little oversight from the federal government. She said the EPA does not regulate firing range design or maintenance.

Evendale Mayor Richard Finan said the 30 acres used for the gun range is not the "highest and best use" for the property.  He'd like for his village to buy the land and use it for economic development for an aero hub and advanced manufacturing.

The city has been using the site since the 1940s, when Evendale donated the land to Cincinnati for the gun range.

Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld chaired the meeting and said the goal was to absorb the nature and scope of the problem. It was not meant to necessarily arrive at an answer.

He pointed out the Cincinnati Police Department has done nothing wrong, and it is working with council members on finding a solution.

Sittenfeld at the end of the meeting promised a second session soon on discussing possible solutions.

Council Member Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney told the audience "we're going to get this taken care of together."

Cincinnati officials have said they are not opposed to closing the Evendale gun range and selling the property.  But the city wants help finding a new location for it and money to construct a new facility.  That comes with a price of $5-9 million.

CPD representatives, along with Cincinnati council members, in recent weeks have been touring possible sites to relocate the gun range.

Hamilton County Commission President Denise Driehaus has proposed the county and the city work together to expand the county sheriff's department's gun range in Colerain Township. She said federal authorities could also use such a facility, and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown had indicated federal money may be available for such a project.

However, in a report, Cincinnati's interim city manager expressed concern about moving city police officers to the county range. The report indicated the county has been receiving noise complaints from nearby neighbors and adding city police to the site would only exacerbate the problem.