County ensures police can use Sportsman

C. J. Schatza, IVN copy editor

The ongoing process of transferring the county-owned Sportsman Park firing range to the nonprofit Josephine County Sportsman Association reached an important milestone Wednesday, June 8.

Presented with a land sale and transfer contract with JCSA, the JoCo Board of Commissioners opted to approve it, after tabling the matter the week before because there was not ironclad wording in the contract for local law enforcement agencies to continue being granted access to the range, as they have since it was established.

“This contract has been presented to the Josephine County Sportsman Association through counsel and we received their feedback,” said JoCo legal counsel Wally Hicks. “Counsel has agreed that this is an appropriate contract, which would arrange for the ultimate sale and transfer of the property, which is effectuated through the execution and delivery of a bargain and sale deed, provided the terms of the contract have been satisfied.”

Hicks went on, “Certain terms of the contract include a contingency period in which the association shalll have 30 days from the day this agreement is signed to conduct title searches, inspections and other preparatory matters.”

The lawyer then delved into the “robust provision” added to the contract since the last meeting pertaining to law enforcement agencies being able to use the range.

“I’ll go ahead and read it, since this is what we focused on last week,” Hicks said. He added that the association’s legal representatives agreed the provision was appropriate.

“The association agrees to allow locally based police agencies – including Grants Pass Police, Josephine County Sheriff’s Office, Community Corrections, and Oregon State Police based in Josephine County – to routinely schedule use of certain sections of the firing ranges,” the provision reads. “The association and police agencies will continue the current practice of scheduling the range, and both parties will use good faith efforts to avoid range scheduling conflicts.”

Law enforcement personnel are also guaranteed “exclusive use, control and access” to structures that are currently reserved for police training. 

During remarks from commissioners, Commissioner Darin Fowler spoke about recent national discussions pertaining to restrictions on firearms in the wake of increasing gun violence incidents, and how that has factored into his deliberations on transferring Sportsman Park to JCSA.

“One of the last pieces in my decision process was the movement of government towards control over guns,” said Fowler. “And since then, we’ve had some nationwide attention on that, where there is a lot of hand wringing over guns, and of course we’re not talking about the criminal that held the gun. We only want to talk about the inanimate object that is a gun.”

Fowler concluded, “In this climate, to distance this gun range from the government, that makes total sense to me… They’re going to come up with something that will restrict our citizens’ gun use if we don’t do this transfer.”

All three commissioners voted to approve the land transfer contract.