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updated: 4/24/2013 6:27 PM

Kane Co. shooting range could be hard sell

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  • Front entrance to the old Kane County Sheriff's Office and Jail on Fabyan Parkway in Geneva.

      Front entrance to the old Kane County Sheriff's Office and Jail on Fabyan Parkway in Geneva.
    LAURA STOECKER | Staff Photographer


A new shooting range for Kane County Sheriff's deputies will probably cost about $900,000, but confirmation of that estimate -- and getting an idea of what the building will look like -- will definitely cost $67,000.

Both those prices may be a hard sell unless the county can get other local police departments on board to share the cost.

The county board finance committee reviewed Wednesday a request for $67,000 of architectural drawings.

After some initial trepidation, the finance committee agreed to move that request forward.

Still getting the full board's OK may prove trickier.

The vision involves building an addition at the county's judicial center to house the range, somewhere that nearby residents would neither see nor hear. The old shooting range has become contaminated with lead from old bullets, flood water and mold from lack of maintenance.

But some board members said they are concerned plunking down the initial cost is tantamount to signing off on the final construction.

"I'm not opposed to spending this money if this is the best long-term solution," said board member Becky Gillam. "But I'd like to see other long-term solutions. This is the only solution that's been presented so far. When you go to construction documents, you've decided that you're going to build it already.

"I think we're getting the cart before the horse. This is deciding which kinds of nuts and bolts are going to be used for this project. In my mind, this is a commitment to build. You don't spend $70,000 without doing that."

Sheriff Pat Perez explained part of the expedited push is to keep the county out of potentially costly litigation if a shooting incident occurred and a lawsuit stemmed from deputies not being property trained and certified to use their firearms.

"This is an operational necessity of the sheriff's office," Perez said. "We're the third-largest law enforcement agency in Kane County. It's appalling to me that we're rehashing this over and over. If we don't do this, guess what -- my people don't get to carry their firearms."

Perez and county finance officials assured board members there is money to pay for the shooting range. Perez' office has secured a grant. Plus he is projecting enough unexpected income from foreclosure sales overseen by his office and reimbursement for housing federal inmates in the jail to pay for the range.

With that reassurance, the finance committee agreed to move the $67,000 request forward and allow the board's administrative committee to get into the details of Perez' plan and any other long-term solutions.

Getting approval from the full board may rest upon the ability to get other police departments on board with using the new shooting range. If that happened, the county would be able to either get some assistance from those departments with paying for the construction or charge a usage fee that could turn the range into a moneymaker in the long run.

"Originally, I was opposed to moving forward with this," said finance committee Chairman John Hoscheit. "If we have the financial resources from the sheriff's office, then I'm less averse. But that doesn't mean I'm going to vote to approve it until we look at the cost and have commitments from other agencies to use it. It doesn't make sense to build a facility that's going to be run at less than 50 percent capacity."

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