A firearms safety instructor had planned a class for teenagers later this month.
After abruptly closing its police gun range in mid-July, the Plymouth City Council recently addressed complaints from a firearms safety instructor who had planned to use the range Aug. 18 to train teenagers.
The range was closed two weeks after a new state law went into effect July 1 requiring publicly funded ranges to be open to youth gun training -- a law resident Dave Larson had pushed for and Plymouth city leaders had opposed. City leaders reiterated at a July 24 meeting that the shooting range, in use since 1989, had ongoing mold and water leaking issues, and is no longer safe for officers, let alone youth.
"We didn't want to put any additional taxpayer dollars into this facility when not only does it have the ongoing water and mold issues, but we have better training opportunities for our police officers elsewhere," Mayor Kelli Slavik said.
Larson, a volunteer firearms safety instructor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, accused the city of breaking an agreement to hold the Aug. 18 training for 30 teens and asked if he could use the facility in the future.
But Slavik said the city didn't have any lease agreement with Larson for the training course and closed the shooting range for safety reasons. Public Works Director Doran Cote showed photos of last year's mold growth on equipment and in the gun range, located in a basement of a fire station, saying it's still an issue today.
Judy Johnson, the only other council member to address Larson's concerns at the meeting, said she was sorry for those who were disappointed in the city's decision and while "there's a lot of passion around it, to me this is a facility management issue."
"I'm hopeful that there can be new partnerships that come out of this," she said.
Larson has relocated the firearms safety field day training to Corcoran about 15 minutes away, but will still use Plymouth's City Hall for classroom training.
"I feel absolutely shunned," Larson said. "The city has taken an entire activity... and basically slammed every door. And I'm going to continue to ask."
Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141