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September 14. 2012 12:45AM

Londonderry Fish and Game Club says gunfire isn't noise pollution

LONDONDERRY — Faced with fresh complaints from a neighboring golf course, members of the Londonderry Fish and Game Club are up in arms.

During Monday night's Town Council meeting, Londonderry Country Club owner Tom Kimball spoke out during the meeting's public comment segment. Kimball told the council that noise from two nearby shooting ranges has become a nuisance for country club members.

A lengthy discussion between Kimball, the councilors and several town officials ensued, with the council ultimately agreeing to hold a public meeting at the golf course at some point this month, giving them time to notify members of the community.

The country club, located at 56 Kimball Road, opened in 1969. Kimball did not immediately return calls seeking further comment on Thursday.

Londonderry Police Chief Bill Hart, who is serving as the town's interim town manager, said Kimball has complained to the police department several times over the years.

“He's brought a few issues to our attention on several occasions since the (police department's) shooting range opened (in 2008),” said Hart.

Hart said topic would be addressed in greater detail during the upcoming meeting. As of late this week, a date for the meeting hasn't been set.

Contacted on Thursday, local Fish and Game Club President Rick Olson said the club, which opened in 1951 and moved to its current location in the early 1970s, has operated in the same manner for the past four decades.

These days, the Fish and Game Club has roughly 700 active members, he said.

Olson noted that his club is actually located much closer to another golf course: the Hidden Creek Country Club on Morgan Road in Litchfield.

“We've gotten no grief from them whatsoever,” he said, adding that complaints from residents living in nearby homes are also a rarity. “So I feel this isn't really an issue of noise pollution. This is an issue of someone who's intolerant to the sounds of gunfire.”

Fish and Game Club Secretary Steve Cox said the club members have tried to sympathize with the country club owner's concerns, but admitted he's “not sure what can be done about it.”

“He never tells us if it's a matter of club members complaining or if it's just his own complaint,” Cox said of Kimball.

Cox said the noise from the game club's four firing ranges is minimal.

“You can stand right outside the club's gates (on Lund Street in Litchfield) and barely hear any noise,” he said. “So I think there's actually a lot of misunderstanding surrounding this place. We're a very family-oriented facility.”

Both Cox and Olson said they planned on attending the yet-to-be-scheduled Town Council meeting at the Londonderry Country Club.

The two men agreed that building an indoor shooting range in Londonderry, which was one alternative suggested by Kimball during this week's Town Council meeting, seems an unlikely solution.

“A lot of our shooters like to shoot at a 100-yard range,” said Cox. “Building the kind of facility where you can do that indoors is unlikely, plus certain calibers of firearms can't be used in an indoor range.”

Olson said the Fish and Game Club researched the option of adding an indoor shooting range several years back but learned that building such a facility could cost upwards of several million dollars.

“It just seems unrealistic,” he said.

Auburn resident David McLaughlin, a member of the Londonderry Fish and Game Club, agreed.

“An indoor range is not a complete solution for keeping one's shooting skills sharp,” he said. “There are many limitations with indoor ranges, and there is no substitute for an outdoor range for many types of weapons and training requirements.”

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April Guilmet may be reached at AGuilmet@newstote.com.


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