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Regional police training facility proposed at former Redmond Rod & Gun Club site

Need is clear, site ideal, proponents say -- but financing is a hurdle

(Update: Adding video, more detail)

Could cost up to $100 million over years, play role after NW mega-quake

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office and other law enforcement agencies are working to create a long-discussed regional training facility a reality.

The agencies have been working with the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council in identifying the county-owned former Redmond Rod & Gun Club shooting range property near Redmond Airport as a potential site.

COIC's Community and Economic Development Manager Scott Aycock said Thursday the proposal is not really a new one.

"This has been an idea, a concept for quiet a while now, maybe 10 years." Aycock said.

Aycock said they've consulted with agencies across the region, and Central Oregon currently has insufficient facilities to meet training needs and requirements.

"Regional law enforcement, fire and other kinds of emergency personnel have long known that they don't have what they need," Aycock said. "They don't have what they're required, or even what they'd like to do, in terms of having training facilities here locally."

The modern facility would also be much more than a shooting range.

"There would be shooting ranges, there would be driving courses, and there would be fire towers," Aycock said. "There would be props for airport emergencies, and there could even be FBI facilities."

Along with a gun range, a proposed site plan includes space for classrooms, K-9 facilities and elements that would allow training for water rescue, confined spaces, vehicle extrications and a "burn building," as well as a driving track and a tactical "village."

Ayock also said the proximity to the airport makes the most sense for emergency response teams.

"All our analysis says this is the ideal site, given everything we need." Aycock said. "From land availability, there's nothing nearby of conflicting use, such as residential housing, and it's close to the Redmond Airport, so it's kind of perfect."

Still, Aycock noted that the project would be no easy task, especially from a financial and developmental perspective.

"It could be up to $100 million -- but not in one bite," Aycock said.

Ideally, the project would be spread out over eight phases.

It could also play a key role in a regional response after a major earthquake, along with the nearby Deschutes County Fairgrounds and Redmond Airport, where preparations have been underway for some time in the event of such a disaster on the Cascadia subduction zone, a major offshore fault.

"If Cascadia happens, which would affect Oregon, Washington, and California, Redmond Airport is envisioned as staging emergency response efforts," Aycock said. "Other airports are expected to not be functioning."

Deschutes County commissioners will be briefed on the proposal next Wednesday, as those involved seek to continue conversations about the feasibility of the project.

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.


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