Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tarpon gun range gets neighbors' blessing ahead of vote

TARPON SPRINGS — Some city residents are raising a stink about a huge indoor gun range proposed for U.S. 19, but neighbors who would live closest to it say they like the idea.

About 100 residents of the Stonehedge on the Hill mobile home park this week applauded the plans for Reload Gun Range, a nearly 60,000-square-foot facility proposed next door to the 265-home community.

The range, which would be built at 40050 U.S. 19, on the west side of the highway north of Klosterman Road, is being touted as one of the largest and most advanced in the Southeast. It would be bordered by Stonehedge on the west and south.

Representatives of the developer, European Equities of Clearwater, explained their concept during Stonehedge's homeowners association meeting Wednesday and answered residents' questions about construction, safety, noise, traffic, pollution, pricing, range security and more.

Several residents of the 55-and-up community told the Tampa Bay Times that they are happy the range will replace a vacant and dilapidated IHOP and a Days Inn motel, increasing neighborhood safety and generating about $50,000 a year in tax revenue.

"We're just happy that something nice is coming in there and will be an asset for the city," said Georgia Sego, 81.

Joe Massoud, 78, said he passes the site, a frequent subject of police calls about transients and crime, on his daily walk. Massoud, from Illinois, is a self-proclaimed gun enthusiast who's eager to have a range nearby.

"It's been an eyesore for a long time," he said of the property. He added that he liked that the range would have a law enforcement training area and would draw more police officers to the area.

The Stonehedge residents' reactions Wednesday were in stark contrast to opinions expressed during a meeting the night before, when a handful of Tarpon residents argued with several range supporters and said the facility might spark violence or destroy the city's quaint character.

Several residents accused the city of trying to push through approval without residents' input. They called for the issue to be decided by voter referendum. And they vowed to mobilize against the range, which the City Commission will consider for approval April 15.

The organizer of the anti-gun meeting, Florida Coalition to Stop Gun Violence executive director Arthur Hayhoe, said he was putting European Equities "on notice" that his group will also fight any other gun facilities the company tries to open in Florida.

Hayhoe has said he thinks restrictions on Florida cities' ability to enforce local gun laws would hamper authorities in policing the range's clientele both on and off the premises.

That didn't appear to be a worry for the Stonehedge neighbors.

In response to residents' questions, Justin Floyd, a top European Equities official, said landscaping, a parking lot and double-concrete and steel-enforced walls will buffer the mobile home park from noise and bullets. Bulletproof glass will also protect shooters inside individual booths, and spectators.

"We've taken every precaution, every design element, to make sure this is a safe, soundproof building," he said.

The anticipated hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the heaviest use on weekends. But, Floyd said, engineers have determined that the site will draw dramatically less traffic than the previous use and that the range will be quieter than passing traffic on U.S. 19.

He said the building would contain more than 100 surveillance cameras and that employees would constantly patrol shooting lanes. Patrons would be able to rent or bring their own firearms and take classes, and those who bought guns from the range's store would be subject to the same background checks as at stores like Dick's Sporting Goods or Walmart.

Tarpon Springs officials estimate the project will cost at least $10 million and create as many as 40 permanent jobs.

Keyonna Summers can be reached at ksummers@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4153. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Tarpon gun range gets neighbors' blessing ahead of vote 03/28/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 28, 2014 6:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Entrance lanes close on eastbound I-4 in Plant City following semi crash

    Accidents

    An eastbound entrance lane to Interstate 4 is blocked Tuesday morning following a semi crash, according to broadcast reports.

  2. Gov. Rick Scott could soon be the all-time king of line-item veto

    Blogs

    2016: $256,144,027

    2015: $461,387,164

    2014: $68,850,121

    2013: $367,950,394

    2012: $142,752,177

    2011: $615,347,550

    Only once has Scott used the line-item veto sparingly. That was in 2014, the year he ran for re-election, when he removed a paltry $69 million from the budget.

    Gov. Rick Scott waves a veto pen at The Villages in 2011.
  3. Rays morning after: An up-and down day for Jose De Leon

    Blogs

    Rays RHP Jose De Leon had a busy Monday - getting called up to join the Rays for the first time and making his way from Pawtucket, R.I., to Boston and the flying to Texas, working 2 2/3 eventful innings to get the W in the 10-8 victory over the Rangers, and then getting optioned back to Triple-A.

    Jose De Leon follows through in the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, on May 29, 2017.
  4. Resignation of communications director Dubke could signal more changes within White House staff

    National

    WASHINGTON — Mike Dubke has resigned as White House communications director, a senior administration official confirmed Tuesday, in the first of what could be a series of changes to President Trump's senior staff amid the growing Russia scandal.

    President Donald Trump speaks at the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Monday, May 29, 2017, during a Memorial Day ceremony. [Associated Press]
  5. Trump pays somber tribute to fallen troops on Memorial Day

    National

    ARLINGTON, Va. — President Donald Trump expressed the nation's "boundless" gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice paid by Americans defending the United States, dedicating his first Memorial Day address as commander in chief to a top Cabinet secretary and two other families who lost loved ones.

    Brittany Jacobs, left, watches as her 6-year-old son Christian Jacobs meets President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, Monday, May 29, 2017, in Arlington, Va. Jacobs father, Marine Sgt. Christopher Jacobs, was killed in 2011. [Associated Press]