Shooting range support: Legislators deny giving it

Kirk Boxleitner kboxleitner@ptleader.com
Posted 10/3/17

State legislators have differed with Fort Discovery Inc. over accounts of their alleged support for a proposed new shooting and archery range on the north shore of Tarboo Lake, which could be located …

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Shooting range support: Legislators deny giving it

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State legislators have differed with Fort Discovery Inc. over accounts of their alleged support for a proposed new shooting and archery range on the north shore of Tarboo Lake, which could be located on 40 acres of forested property.

In a Sept. 1 press release, Fort Discovery president Joe D’Amico wrote, “We have support from 24th District state legislators and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe,” referring to his proposed new facility.

Jefferson County’s Department of Community Development (DCD) received a pre-application from D’Amico and is in the process of evaluating it.

Fort Discovery manufactures, sells and maintains firearms, while Security Services Northwest Inc., another business D’Amico operates, provides security and dispatch services, according to the company.

Activities at the location where D’Amico currently operates his businesses, on Discovery Bay, have been controversial and resulted in complaints about noise over the past decade.

“Our intent is to relocate the higher-intensity uses of Fort Discovery to this location, which is surrounded by commercial forestland,” D’Amico is quoted as saying in the Sept. 1 press release.

W. Ron Allen, tribal chair and CEO of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, wrote a letter dated May 31 and addressed to the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, in which he agreed that the proposed site “is an ideal location for such a facility.”

NO CONTACT

Mike Chapman and Steve Tharinger, both representatives for the 24th District, spoke with The Leader Sept. 21 and denied that they had ever given their support for D’Amico’s proposed new facility.

“I was never contacted by Mr. D’Amico that I can remember,” Tharinger said. “As a rule, I don’t involve myself in local zoning issues, so I don’t know where he got his information.”

D’Amico did not mention Tharinger by name, but Tharinger said he wished to make it clear that he has not weighed in on the matter one way or the other, given the number of constituents whom he said has contacted him about the issue.

Chapman recalled sitting in on a meeting between D’Amico and county officials regarding the proposed facility, alongside state Sen. Kevin Van De Wege of the 24th District, earlier this summer, but he also denied endorsing the proposal.

“There’s nothing for me to endorse,” Chapman said. “It’s a local issue. He’s moving forward in this process with the county, so it’s between him and the county. It would be premature for me to declare my support for something when I don’t even know what I would be supporting. I haven’t seen the final draft. I don’t know that anyone has.”

Although Van De Wege told The Leader on Sept. 22 that he believes that the relocation of D’Amico’s shooting range to a more rural area could help alleviate noise complaints and make the facility more environmentally friendly, he added that he was speaking “conceptually only, because the specifics are up to D’Amico and the county to work out, and to see if they can agree on it.”

Van De Wege’s office added that the senator’s stance was the same as Chapman’s and Tharinger’s, that “this is a local issue,” and not one for them to weigh in on.

When contacted by The Leader for comment on the accuracy of the Sept. 1 press release, D’Amico issued the following statement on Sept. 25:

“We appreciate that Senator Van De Wege and Representative Chapman responded positively to our request to join us in a preliminary meeting with Jefferson County officials to discuss our general concept for a new shooting range. They recognize the need to better control illegal shooting on the Olympic Peninsula, which is an ongoing issue for the state Department of Natural Resources, and the need for our emergency responders to have access to a first-class facility.”

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