Police Chief James Grunden told the council it would be a long-range project, over the next seven years.
The range will be at the old city dump ground off Hwy. 154 East, in an area of the property where garbage has not been buried and will not be where Sanitation Solutions, which handles the city’s trash pickup, is planning to build a transfer station. The whole property is about 100 acres, Grunden said.
It will have an embankment and trees behind the target area, as a buffer zone to insure safety.
The department has used a range at Midway for years, along with other law enforcement agencies, but that range is being opened to the public.
City Manager Jeff Ellington said that increased the city’s insurance costs severely.
The property was donated for a range by Steve Dean/Dean Lumber 38 years ago.
“We’re not asking for a lot of money,” Grunden said. “It won’t be public.” He said other law agencies who wanted to would be allowed to use it.
“We’re going to do this one right,” Ellington said. “It’s not going to be open to the public. It will be a private range for the City of Gilmer law enforcement.
They said that the current range had served them well, but with the increased insurance liability that comes with using a public range, it was time to develop an alternative.
The council heard resident Mike Kelley, who asked if the city could become a “quiet zone” for railroad trains who pass through. He asked if the railroad could somehow be rerouted around the city.
Kelley said that conductors blew train whistles at every railroad crossing, and that they could be heard for a long distance. He lives off Cherokee Trace, and said the train whistles at all hours are a major distraction and annoyance.
He also that the trains have a “staging area” (where crews are changed), north of Smith Ave., and that they blew the whistle a lot as they get up speed leaving there.
“It’s less offensive when they are going through town at 30 to 40 miles an hour than when they stop,” he said.
He said he believes the noise affects property values.
Kelley said Longview and other cities had “quiet zones.”
Ellington said that he had checked with a Longview official, who told him that it was “complicated and cost a lot of money.”
“Most people who live near a track expect to hear a train whistle,” Mayor Buck Cross said. “Moving the track is out of the question.”
He added that establishing a quiet zone is “very expensive and very drawn out legally.”
He added that he would ask City Attorney Mike Martin to look into it, however.
“My experience has been that they (railroads) don’t care very much” what local communities want.
Ellington said that the railroad is not governed by local ordinances or state laws, but only federal laws. He advised Kelley to take his concerns to the Regional Mobility Authority, which is appointed by the governor, but they would have to take it to the Feds.
He said that Federal regulations probably specify how trains blow their whistles as they go through crossings.
Ellington said that railroads do pretty much what they want to. “Dealing with them is like dealing with the Army Corps of Engineers,” which the city has had some experience with in constructing and maintaining Lake Gilmer.
The city discussed, but took no action on the fountain in the plaza on the north side of the Upshur County Courthouse.
The fountain had been built as part of the Main Street program some years ago, but doing a drought two years ago, the city shut off the water in a conservation move.
Ellington said a group had proposed turning it into a planter, but that the person who donated the money for it originally had contacted the county and wants it operating again.
The council decided to pay for plumbing repairs to the fountain, with the possibility that the county will take it over.