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Officials seem content with center details

July 22, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - There were concerns that a federal firearms facility near Harpers Ferry, W.Va., could create excess noise and threaten tourism, but there seems to be less worry about those issues now.

In a firing range proposed for the center, it appears there will be noise-muffling devices from the point where firearms are fired to the point where they enter a steel trap, Jefferson County Commissioner James G. Knode said.

"I would think that would really cut down (on noise). They seem to have things under control," Knode said Sunday.

Because of the muffling devices and other design features of the firing range, U.S. Customs officials who briefed the Jefferson County Commission about the project last week said they doubted anyone would be able to hear much noise from the center.

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Trotto said the U.S. Park Service is allowing the center to use 60 acres it owns, which Knode said is a plus.

U.S. Customs officials have worked with the U.S. Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make sure the center presents no threats to nearby wildlife and historical resources, Tom Trotto and other U.S. Customs officials told the commission last Thursday.

When the center was initially proposed, some local residents complained about not being able to get details about how the firearms training facility would be designed.

Two years ago, Paul Rosa, executive director of the Harpers Ferry Conservancy, asked the commission to send a letter to U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., requesting that legislation regarding the training center be delayed until the community could learn more about the facility.

The commission instead voted to lend its support to the project.

On Sunday, Rosa said his organization expressed concern about a 500,000-gallon water tank that was to be used to serve the center. Rosa said his group was concerned about the visual impact of the water tank.

The proposal was later changed to include a 200,000-gallon water tank, Rosa said.

Although the design of the center is still being worked out, it will be a campus-like setting that will have low-height buildings and plenty of surrounding vegetation, Trotto and other U.S. Customs officials said.

Rosa said people seem satisfied with the design.

"I think we can resolve the issues amicably," Rosa said.

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