The Cowlitz Public Shooting Range has been given an extension on its building permit and is expected to be open again starting Saturday.
The range, located just north of Castle Rock at the end of Toutle Park Rd., had been closed indefinitely June 10 after Cowlitz Game and Anglers, the club overseeing construction and use of the range, has been unable to meet a construction deadline of May 31 for Phaze II of the facility.
Phase I, which included multiple ranges and stations for different types of firearms, had been completed last year, and the range was officially opened May 1, 2013. Phase II was to include an enclosed building on the property with restrooms, a kitchen and classroom space, and had been an estimated 10 days away from completion as of the deadline, according to Club President Dick Miller.
A permit hearing to decide on an extension was held today at 11 a.m. and Hearings Examiner Mark Scheibmeir said it was his opinion there would be no harm in allowing a one-year extension for the completion of Phase II, noting the many regulations placed on the club for the safe and neighbor-friendly operation of the range had so-far been fulfilled.
Scheibmeir also noted the closure of the range in light of the un-met deadline was not something he had expected or would have imposed, with Miller also noting he felt the measure was a step beyond what Cowlitz County, who owns the range, ought to have taken. County Commissioner Jim Misner had stated the closure was part of expectations the county would have placed on any other entity who had failed to meet a permit deadline, and said commissioners were not in a position to hold the range to a different set of rules.
Club members said they expect to re-open this Saturday, following the Fourth of July holiday, and said pass-holders who missed the last month can expect an extension on their use of the range. Completion of Phase II will depend on the soliciting of bids from contractors, which Cowlitz County Facilities Service Director Ron Junker said may take 14 days to complete, prior to the finalization of Phase II.