The Hamilton County Commission on Wednesday agreed to meet the Chattanooga City Council halfway in funding fixes for the facility, which is used by county and city law enforcement.
The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office recently identified several maintenance-related items requiring attention for the firing range, in addition to requested improvements to the site's parking and lighting. For several years, the firing range property has been targeted for proposed incorporation within federal park lands and has been the subject of ongoing discussions concerning its relocation.
On Wednesday, commissioners voted 7-1 in favor of committing up to $150,000 for recommended upgrades, matching the city's previously approved commitment to the renovation project. Commissioner Tim Boyd cast the only "no" vote, and Commissioner Randy Fairbanks was absent.
"I'm not in favor of putting another dime into the Moccasin Bend firing range," said Boyd after the voting session. "We need to move out of it. The county needs its own [firing range] and to quit negotiating with the city on a firing range."
Boyd said he would like the county to give the sheriff's office "the best training facilities they can have" and "let the city do their thing."
Commissioners Gregory Beck, Boyd and Fairbanks all voiced concerns over putting more money into the firing range in a previous discussion, opposing Commissioner Joe Graham's call to invest in the facility's upkeep.
Graham described the $150,000 price tag as a minimal amount of money considering the firing range's usage, adding that no county dollars have been allocated to the property in a long time. He also urged caution in light of the millions of dollars that will be needed to build a new facility.
Outside of the meeting, Sheriff Jim Hammond expressed appreciation for the joint commitment to renovating the firing range.
"This is something very necessary for us to stay on target for training our officers, both from the city and the county," Hammond said.
The needs are not anything new, said Chief Deputy Allen Branum of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.
"We've got targets that are literally falling off the stands out there when the wind blows because we've just kind of backed off [on maintenance] while waiting on this movement on a new range," said Branum. "A lot of this is just routine maintenance, a lot of repairs."
Contact staff writer Paul Leach at 423-757-6481 or firstname.lastname@example.org.