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The Bulletin: Griswold residents ready to crank up volume in gun range fight

March 5, 2018
In The News

GRISWOLD – Residents hell-bent on keeping their town quiet are making quite the noise.

They’re an eclectic bunch – about 80 of whom are a part of the crusading Keep Griswold Quiet/Save Pachaug Forest. 

Electric Boat employees, professional artists, retired veterans, carpenters, students, veterinarians, casino employees, waiters, truck drivers, mathematicians, a pilot, holistic therapist and many more make up the group preparing for an opportunity this week to keep a controversial, state-proposed gun range out of their town.

The Public Safety and Security Committee will review 10 bills Tuesday in the Legislature Building in Hartford – the most important to Griswold is House Bill 5304 that would require the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection to conduct a study regarding its firearms training needs.

If the bill passes, it would surely halt the proposed Connecticut State Police Gun Range facility the state wants to build in the quiet town with “beautiful forests.”

Numerous residents have prepared testimonies and are signed up to speak; dozens more have emailed lawmakers. The collective message: Stop forcing this proposed range down our throats, we do not want it here.

“When we started hearing about how many guns would be going off, and that there could be 35 people up there a day shooting – that’s when the fight started,” said Sharon Viadella, a retiree who lives with her husband, Stanley, on Lester Road. “We could potentially hear 1,000 shots a day. It’s not about the decibels. It’s the constant pop, pop, pop that we’re going to be hearing.”

For two years, residents in Griswold and the surrounding area have been battling what’s turned out to be a silent foe: the state has been reticent since it selected a 113-acre piece of property on Lee Road for its gun range.

If you go

What: State Police firearms training facility public hearing with the Public Safety Committee

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Legislature Building in Hartford; Room 2b

Information: Griswold residents who want to attend the hearing can take a bus that will be at the botton of the Slater Mill Mall parking lot at 8:30 a.m. and leave Griswold at 8:45 a.m. sharp. The cost is $7 and parking will be available in the lot. A head count for the bus is needed no later than Monday. For more information, contact Pam Patalano at (401) 533-1864 or Sharon Viadella at (860) 303-7320.

Griswold is the latest town the state has tapped for a facility no one wants – that list includes Voluntown, Sprague, Canterbury and Hampton.

State officials claim there are no other options. It can’t use the National Guard’s two training facilities in East Haven (US Rep. Joe Courtney’s solution) or East Lyme because “neither is a suitable alternative.”

Officials also argue they can’t consider other facilities because they don’t “meet our requirements.”

“There is absolutely no benefit to the town of Griswold, the state does not have the funds now and will most likely not have the funds to pay for this in the future,” resident Joseph Wills said. “There does not seem to be a definitive plan of action coming from the state.” 

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Read the full story at NorwichBulletin.com