(TNS) - For decades, the tiny Glenville police department has relied on the benevolence of a local private gun club for firearms training and practice.
That could change soon under a revived $1 million multi-phase proposal to build a training facility for police and firefighters on two parcels of vacant land on Vley Road.
The site would also be used by first responders in neighboring Scotia.
"This training facility is going to provide the Glenville police department with a private range, something that we haven't had here in 25-plus years," said Chief Stephen Janik Monday. The 22-member department will be able to do more reality-based training to simulate a range of emergency calls from the seemingly routine to more dangerous ones, the chief said.
"Typically smaller departments have to beg, borrow and steal when it comes to training locations," he said.
Right now, paid and volunteer departments in Scotia and Glenville train at other facilities, mostly in southern Saratoga County, according to Glenville Supervisor Chris Koetzle. Scotia police do their firearms training in Rotterdam, officials said.
"This really gives our fire and police the ability to be proactive in their training, to train together," said Koetzle. "We already have a great relationships between all the departments but coming together and working together in a training setting is only going to enhance our ability to work together."
Janik noted that any joint training between the two police departments would be as a result of an agreement between him and Scotia Chief Pete Frisoni.
Besides the gun range on the former landfill, the initial phase of the plans calls for the other tract across the railroad to house a classroom with a decontamination shower, a large emergency vehicle operation and control course that can be used by both police and fire.
Koetzle said Monday officials hope construction will get underway in the summer and have the first phase of the facility open by late fall. The second phase calls for the construction of a burn tower and other fire training apparatus that would be used by the seven fire departments in the two communities.
Last month, Glenville police Officer Benjamin Ferretti filed a lawsuit against a Scotia officer alleging she fired her gun wounding him outside a Glenvile home in July even after being warned by her sergeant not to shoot because the formation of the team of five officers meant they could come under fire from each other. The officers had responded to a report of a domestic dispute that escalated into the fatal shooting of the homeowner.
Asked about the shooting, Janik emphasized that "no one could have trained for the situation that occurred on that night."
Koetlze said the Public Safety Committee will decide in the future whether to allow other law enforcement agencies to use the training facility.
Koetzle said the town recently received a $127,000 grant through Sen. Jim Tedisco's office and that the town, village of Scotia, and fire departments from both municipalities would each chip in $50,000 to cover the estimated $277,000 cost of the first phase.
The town will front the $150,000 from its fund balance with a memorandum of understanding that they will repay the monies, Koetzle said. He noted that the county is not involved in the effort.
The idea of a police and fire training facility is not new. In 2006, an ambitious $11 million proposal died on the vine.
On Wednesday, the Glenville Town Board will also vote to on a resolution regarding the $150,000 loan and the required state environmental study on the land. Once that happens, the participating agencies will apply for more grants to fund the project.
Scotia Mayor Kris Kastberg said Monday he is all for the training facility. He said the original plan years ago was more of a regional concept that was sunk because of the size and partisan politics.
"If there is a townwide center, we don't have to schedule with other entities; it's always available, it allows all our departments that will be fighting fires or policing together to actually train and work together, so there's a lot of advantages to it," he said.
"It's a lot better to be familiar with the people that you're responding with and that you work together and that communication is good. There's no denying that that's a benefit," said Kastberg. "I think it's a great concept."
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