By Ryan Robertson
Omaha City Council members put off a vote that could pave the way for an outdoor shooting range within the Cityâ€™s jurisdiction.
It was a fairly ho-hum agenda before Council members this week.
As expected, the Council voted unanimously to lay-over a vote to amend a special use permit for the cityâ€™s Police and Fire Training Facility located at Rainwood and Blair High Roads in a semi-rural area of northwest Omaha.
The Omaha Police Department wants Council members to lift the ban on the outdoor discharge of firearms at the facility. The ban was put in place by a previous Council in 2000.
If the ban is lifted, OPD said it will build a 24 lane, outdoor shooting range at the site. OPD maintains the range is necessary so officers can receive proper training. Neighbors expressed concerns over the level of noise that would come from the range, as well as safety concerns.
The proposed outdoor range is within a mile of Davis Middle School.
Councilwoman Aimee Melton, who proposed the one-week layover, said she met with some residents and city officials last week and discussed the plans to build the range. She said this range would be safer than most, because only trained law enforcement will use the range, not the public.
â€œI think also just looking at the elevation, where you have a hill on one side, baffling on the other and the fact thereâ€™s going to be a range master thatâ€™s going to be there at all times,â€ Melton said, â€œI think [those things] alleviated the safety issues [for residents].â€
Â Itâ€™s expected to cost around $2.5 million to build the range. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has already said it would pitch in $1.2 million towards the cost.
The Council should vote on the ordinance next week.
Also at Tuesdayâ€™s meeting, Council members voted to approve a preliminary plat of Lakeview Point, a proposed 40-acre subdivision located northwest of 168th and Fort Streets. Developers are proposing mixed use office/retail space, along with single family houses and townhomes.
Jaime Suarez, speaking on behalf of Lakeview Point, told Council members what sets this development apart from others, is the fact it will be built around a 220-acre lake.
â€œThe truly unique aspect of this development is the proposed pier that we [want] to build,â€ Suarez said, â€œThe unique experience will offer handicapped accessibility, the potential to offer different events such as farmers markets and tasting cook-offs, and to just host various community events.â€
Again, the Council was just voting on a preliminary plat, so donâ€™t plan any fishing trips to the Lakeview Point Pier just yet.
The final item of note from Tuesdayâ€™s meeting came from the consent agenda. Councilman Pete Festersen wanted to call attention to a resolution approving the design contract for phase II of the Florence Business District Renovation Project.
â€œAfter approval of this, weâ€™ll move to final design and then to construction bids this summer,â€ Festersen said.
He continued, â€œIf you havenâ€™t been to Florence recently, I encourage anyone to check it out. These improvements from Willit Street to State, State Street to Mormon–so right in the heart of the business district there–itâ€™s doing great. Itâ€™s got several new restaurants that are open. No More Empty Pots is expanding there, so weâ€™re very proud of the progress there and [passing the ordinance] will continue that effort.â€
The Florence Neighborhood is one of the oldest in Omaha. The renovation project is designed to improve area sidewalks, add more lighting, and make parking easier.