McELHATTAN - Wayne Township's proposal to take a shooting range and firearms training area from its close proximity to a developing park and moving it to the Southern Clinton County Sportsmen's Association property in Sugar Valley has been shot down.
The township supervisors were on board with the concept, as were the owners of a shooting range in Sugar Valley, but city officials have nixed the deal, Supervisor James Maguire said.
"I just learned about it this afternoon," Maguire said at Monday's monthly meeting of the board. "I talked to Lock Haven Police Chief Skip Hocker and he said he talked to City Manager Richard Marcinkevage ... Basically, they don't want their officers traveling over to southern Clinton County ... They felt they didn't want to go there and wanted to keep it on city land, so it's back to the drawing board."
Township residents felt it was an unfortunate turn of events, as Zindel Park - a property owned by the City of Lock Haven that's being developed by Wayne Township for rural recreation - would seem a stark contrast to the nearby training area for local police departments.
Last month, the supervisors opened negotiations with the Southern Clinton County Sportsmen's Association, and under terms of a proposed deal outlined by Maguire, the township will provide about $35,000 to the association for upgrades to the facility it shares with the local Lions Club in Sugar Valley near Loganton.
In return for the one-time payment, the association would have provided its shooting range to Lock Haven, Pine Creek and Wayne Township police officers.
Maguire said state police already use the Sugar Valley facility, and the change would have benefitted city police because their training could be expanded to include long rifles. The Zindel Park facility's use as a shooting range is limited to shotguns and sidearms.
As it stand now, Maguire said, the township will examine a couple of other options and discuss them with city officials. There's a possibility that a site could be found on city-owned land within the township, but not so close to the park.
Regardless, the township continues its plans for a rural hiking trail and upgrades to Zindel Park, thanks to a $63,000 state grant it plans to match in order to make improvements to the landmark facility, which includes an ornate stone house, several dormant gardens and many other features.
In connection with ongoing recreational efforts, the board anticipates authorizing a five-foot high, chain link fence between one of its parks and the state road, to prevent any wandering children from walking into danger, and authorized the recreation committee to seek contractors to clear brush and debris from a walkway-trail that could tie into the township's system of parks and trails.
Maguire said township crews have done some preliminary cleanup work and the recreational committee members say they are ready to move ahead with plans for a parking area, pavilion and entrance.
The grant was awarded through Pennsylvania's Community Conservation Partnerships program and will be administered by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
The city has offered some words of support for the Zindel Park effort, while maintaining its desire to preserve the property as part of the city's water reservoir system.