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Mayor Orders Firing Range Closed on School Days

Southampton Village police can no longer target practice at Tuckahoe Woods while students are in class at Tuckahoe School.

After receiving a complaint that students and teachers could hear gunfire from their classrooms at the Tuckahoe School four days after the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley has ordered the police firing range closed while school is in session.

Epley said Friday that a group of officers with the Southampton Village Police Department used the range — which is about a half mile from the school — on  Dec. 18 for firearms training. The following day, a Tuckahoe School Board member called him, and he in turn called Police Chief Thomas Cummings and gave the executive order.

"In the wake of the incident in Connecticut, it's very disturbing for children and teachers and parents ..." Epley told Patch Friday. “From a pure community relations standpoint and making kids feel safe in their learning environment, there is no reason that they should use the range while the school is open.”

“Kids are in school 180 days a year," the mayor said. "One-hundred-and-eighty-five days, they can do training."

The range is owned by Southampton Village, though it is located outside of the village's boundaries. Epley said the village acquired the parcel in the 1940s, and it is also used for brush and leaves storage and fire department training. “It's just kind of an out-of-the-way area,” he said.

Epley said he has received complaints about the range in the past, including from neighbors disturbed by the noise on Saturdays. But he has no intention of closing the range. “That firing range has been in place for decades and we're not going to shut it down," he said. "It’s extremely safe.” He added that the firearms instructors are all trained and certified.

Living about a mile from the range, Epley said he has hear "pops" at his house while it is in use.

Two days after the Newtown shooting, Nancy Miller, who lives across the street from the Tuckahoe School, called on the village to stop using the range altogether. "The police budget should be able to bus the officers to a more appropriate facility," she wrote to Patch. A sign was posted at the entrance to the Tuckahoe Woods trails, reading, "Does a firing range belong here? Contact your local representative."

"They have hosted a tri-state automatic weapons class there," Miller said. "Police from New Jersey, Connecticut and New York were there. The loud sounds of guns blasting in the day and through the night could be heard inside the school building. This was during parent-teacher conferences, on a warm day with the windows to the school opened.  It disturbed me at the time that no one took issue with this.  In light of the recent events in Connecticut I am hoping there will be public dissent to having assault rifle sounds near a school."

Epley said that in the past, the range has been used for tri-state training. He explained that East End police departments wanted to have a certain firearms class offered locally, so the village police offered their range.

Jambone December 29, 2012 at 11:12 AM
Between trying to stop the new school sidewalk which oddly ends right at their property line-which only improves the safety of our children in front of the school- to now trying to stop the police from improving their skills, it sounds like the Millers live on the wrong street. Both the school and the firing range were there long before any of those tyrants moved in. Perhaps keeping the community out of the NY Post and the Press and the Patch would be a nice change of pace? How about no more quotes like "its hard to explain to your children when they ask you what that sound is''. Time to go find that tropical island. Peace and love my arse.
David Sagman, M.D. December 29, 2012 at 11:57 AM
We're no tyrants but we live on an adjacent block from the range. The automatic gun fire, often on Saturday mornings and after dark is unnerving to say the least. We've lived here 17 years and know the firing frequency and intensity have been louder and more severe than ever. I have called on numerous occasions and have been misinformed that the range was only used by members of the Village police force and have asked what about the kids in the nearby school? We applaud the mayor.
Bbambi December 29, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Thank you Patch for bringing this to our attention. This is a shockingly ignorant (in the true definition of the word), counter-productive decision. In most areas- within earshot of schools, homes, shopping- we can hear hunters; we can hear target practice on private property within legal setbacks. Hunters and sports shooters - take note.
Daniel Gonzalez December 29, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Great reporting! Brendan.
Bbambi December 29, 2012 at 02:22 PM
We can look at this as a goog teaching opportunity for the children and even the patents and educators. Pack them over to the range. Introduce them to the outstanding individuals who choose to put their own safety second to that of protecting them--us-- let them understand how things work, how safe practices are used- what's really going on. To do otherwise is to nurture, sustain and encourage fear. To bring understanding to anyone- human or animal- of the object of their fear is kind and humane when done in a thoughtful way.
Meadow Lane December 29, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Epley's right; this range has been there for 70 years and the officers can practice when the kids are not in school. Anyone buying a home in the area after 1940 would have known about it from their Realtor or through having done their own investigative work BEFORE they bought. If we want qualified officers, we need to have the trained in proper gun handling and that includes target practice. To do otherwise, would be irresponsible and non-responsive to the real life needs of our community. Teachers must also explain this to their students and NOT instill fear by their own immature behavior.
Fred 'n Freeda December 29, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Someone needs to remove that stupid sign. Was that put there to scare the children and their parents? You've made your point, it's been addressed. Now move on or move along.
Hambone December 29, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I agree with Nancy Miller. Let's enforce every law. Let's begin with her walking an unleashed pit-bull on through the fence that says ''No Trespassing''.
Jeff Rogers December 29, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Don't move next to something you know will be loud then!!!!
David D'Agostino December 29, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Thank you, Mayor Epley. This is a practical and well-reasoned decision that just makes sense. I am sure most cops would agree.
David D'Agostino December 29, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Another example of a disturbing trend on Patch and other blogs. A private citizen comes forward with a legitimate concern, goes through the proper channels to seek a reasonable solution and then is personally attacked by anonymous posters. If you disagree, at least have the decency to use your name, or, better yet, try talking to your neighbor face to face instead of escalating the anger against a private citizen while hiding securely behind an alias. How did you make yourself heard before Internet blogs?
christie nicolle December 29, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Good point David D'Agostino! How did these anonymous posters make themselves heard before internet blogs? Perhaps they repressed what they felt + took it out on their family, friends + neighbors... or perhaps the IMPERSONAL quality of the internet has made unstable, people worse??
Anonymous December 29, 2012 at 05:50 PM
We kicked the dog, shot heroine and drank copious amounts of whiskey. Let's just say we were not fully realized.
Raymond Larsen December 29, 2012 at 06:51 PM
This is getting ridiculous.. This is why I am looking to move off this Island.. Because people can't leave things alone.. I love the East End, its country like, reminds me of upstate... But close to some civilization.. but damn.. If things keep progressing like this, im out. you have people freaken moving so damn close to thing's that have been there for decades and then complain.. after living there for what? 2-3-4 years? Seriously makes no sense.
jasminetea December 29, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Raymond the grass is always greener on the other side. It's the same damn thing everywhere, not just on the island.
oonald December 29, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Your going to wake a sleeping giant. Every household on the east end has lots of legal firearms. We eat therefore we hunt, deer ducks geese turkeys and other small game yea try to take that from us. Guns don't kill our children!!! Uneducated parents that can' t communicate with their kids and have no idea about the safety of proper gun handling. We live on an island that has gun ranges and hunting, for over a hundred years and now you want to stop it, I don't think so
Jeff Rogers December 29, 2012 at 10:44 PM
bambi the range was their first and you know that
Daniel Gonzalez December 30, 2012 at 12:43 PM
I'd like to thank Mayor Epley for his ruling banning police training at the Tuckahoe Woods facility during school hours. Unless you live in the neighborhood it's hard to imagine how loud and inappropriate it is for the students to hear, at times, non-stop automatic gun fire while attending school. This has nothing to do with the rights to bear arms or hunt. My youngest son, a student at Tuckahoe, is a hunter. This is the rational acknowledgment that times have changed and as I said Mayor Epley's compromise is a good one. This forum has also provided commentary on the sidewalk project now completed. Speaking for my family our concern was the preservation of the hedges which any home owner here would be concerned with. The sidewalks were a certainty as soon as the idea was presented. The hedges remain and for this we are grateful. The odd terminus of the sidewalk 12 feet alongside my property line is due to the monies available to the Dept. of Highways. This was the explanation given to me by the foreman of the project. One comment made in this forum implied that I had some sort of personal power to affect the design of the project. An absurd allegation made from someone who clearly doesn't know Superintendent of Highways Alex Gregor. To Patch I recommend the consideration of demanding a name to be attached to commentary. These potshots made from the cover of a pseudonym smacks of cowardice and undermines the position of the writer. Paton Miller
PetrolMan December 30, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Said the guy who used a fake name to suggest in another article that Paton Miller was his favorite East End Artist.
oonald December 30, 2012 at 03:36 PM
AGAIN YOU LIVE ON A ISLAND. If you want to make this a noise issue you will need to shut down the whole Island.Perhaps the police can go to westhampton and share their range a simple solution to what you libs make a big deal out of. What's Next, every time a car backfires our kids will need to see a psychologist My god talk to your kids and stop scaring them
Don Askew December 30, 2012 at 04:23 PM
There is more gunfire coming from the screen of the television or the video screen in the houses of those complaining than from the firing range.
jeff payne December 31, 2012 at 12:38 AM
I don't often agree with the mayor's decisions on many things. Heck, I never agree with the Mayor, particularly with what his party has done to neighborhoods with small lots. But I will concede that this decision to halt shooting activity at the range during school hours was the right thing to do. Noise from a semi-automatic, or fully automatic weapon can be frightening to a young child. Officers can certainly re-qualify with their weapons after school hours without losing any of the skills needed to be proficient with a handgun or whatever the gun du jour is. This was the right call.
Bbambi December 31, 2012 at 12:42 AM
For Jeff Rogers... Perhaps I didn't express myself clearly or you misunderstood? My position is for the range to function the way it always has.
Brendan J. O'Reilly (Editor) December 31, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Paton Miller sent in this comment: I'd like to thank Mayor Epley for his ruling banning police training at the Tuckahoe Woods facility during school hours. Unless you live in the neighborhood it's hard to imagine how loud and inappropriate it is for the students to hear, at times, non-stop automatic gun fire while attending school. This has nothing to do with the rights to bear arms or hunt. My youngest son, a student at Tuckahoe, is a hunter. This is the rational acknowledgment that times have changed and as I said Mayor Epley's compromise is a good one. This forum has also provided commentary on the sidewalk project now completed. Speaking for my family our concern was the preservation of the hedges which any home owner here would be concerned with. The sidewalks were a certainty as soon as the idea was presented. The hedges remain and for this we are grateful. The odd terminus of the sidewalk 12 feet alongside my property line is due to the monies available to the Dept. of Highways. This was the explanation given to me by the foreman of the project. One comment made in this forum implied that I had some sort of personal power to affect the design of the project. An absurd allegation made from someone who clearly doesn't know Superintendent of Highways Alex Gregor. To Patch I recommend the consideration of demanding a name to be attached to commentary. These potshots made from the cover of a pseudonym smacks of cowardice and undermines the position of the writer.
Mike Wilson December 31, 2012 at 04:23 PM
I could be wrong but is looks like the New York Post had this story too. Who broke the story? http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/fury_at_school_firing_range_HjSg3pn8uBptrJ3QQ9BBzJ
Tony G January 01, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Why don't we ask the officers that use the range how they feel about it? How about a few officers chime in here, as they are the ones most affected by this ruling. Let's hear it from the horses mouth, as they say ,to get their input and then we'll know their side of the story, if there is one. It may or may not be an issue for them. My sense is that it is important to them.
Tony G January 01, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Why are we (humans) so closed minded about those things we know nothing about? Ignorance only gets in the way. For example, why don't we educate every one of the students at Tuckahoe as to exactly what is going on across the street. Provide an in classroom presentation as to why we have a need to train people that serve our communities, such as police officers, firemen, EMT people, etc. That without training, they would not be able to protect our lives and properties properly. Teach the kids that we need trained professionals in our town to be there when we need them. Then give the kids a guided tour of the range facility, and perhaps, let them bring a parent or friend that has some familiarity with firearms join them for an afternoon of shooting together, with the police officers. Even if it was with BB guns, it might instill respect for the people of our communities that go in harms way each day. It might create an interest in becoming a P.O. or firefighter, as we will always have a need for them and that local people need great jobs too. It also might mitigate the confusion about what a gun range really is. Get out there folks and educate yourselves and your children. I can clearly imagine seeing the eyes of a young kid, once educated about this property next door, having the opportunity to see first hand what our police officers go through to help keep us protected. Something tells me it could be one of those really special moments.
Hazel Wilkonson the First January 01, 2013 at 06:33 PM
What you are really advocating is an indoctrination into the redneck world of gun fetishism.
Tony G January 02, 2013 at 02:15 AM
Wilkonson, Je ne répondrai pas à votre commentaire évidemment pas intelligents. Merci!
Algebra January 02, 2013 at 07:27 PM
Mayor said it right, "school is open 180 days, that leaves 185 other days for use of the range" Done. Fixed ( if it was broken) Don't plan on sleeping in on Saturdays though :P

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