HARTFORD, CT — The two major party gubernatorial candidates don’t agree on much, but they agree they don’t want to see a 113-acre parcel of land in eastern Connecticut turned into a state police gun range.
And neither wants a lame duck governor moving forward with purchasing the land before he leaves office on January 9, 2019, according to Tim Herbst, a former Republican candidate for governor, who is representing four property owners and the Save Pachaug Forest organization.
In this letter, Herbst said he anticipates Malloy’s administration will move forward with the purchase of the 113-acre parcel of privately owned forest and farm land on Lee Road in Griswold sometime after the election and before a new governor is sworn into office.
The state police have been looking for a new firing range for several years now because their current facility at the base of Avon Mountain is “well within a flood plain, and abutted by the Farmington River in Simsbury. Even when rainfall is moderate, as has been the case this year, the range floods. Repeated flooding and mold led to condemnation and demolition of our classroom building on the property.”
Additionally, the state says: “The Simsbury property, 12.5 acres, is too small to provide more of the training opportunities that troopers should have to keep pace with the threats that they increasingly face in the field, including eastern Connecticut, varying widely from accidental opioid overdoses and an influx in rural drug trafficking routes to domestic violence situations where the partner is at imminent risk of harm and active shooter scenarios.”
Proposals to build a new state police range in Willington and East Windsor haven’t officially been scrapped, but state officials turned their attention to far eastern Connecticut, including Griswold, in 2016 following public hearings.
An estimated $2.87 million in bond authorizations remain for the firearms training facility, according to Herbst.
“Given the monumental budget deficit the next governor will face, the outgoing administration should not encumber its successor with a significant future costs. Options should be left on the table to mitigate the budget deficit,” Herbst wrote in a letter threatening to file an injunction if the administration moves forward.
Asked about Herbst’s letter the Malloy administration said they haven’t had an opportunity to review it.
“We have not had the opportunity to review the letter so I am unable to speak to the details therein,” Kelly Donnelly, a spokeswoman for Malloy said Wednesday. “However, what I can say is that this project is fundamentally about ensuring public safety, which requires a well-trained state police force. That has consistently been the guiding priority throughout this process.”