Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont made good on a campaign promise Friday and removed Griswold from consideration as the site of a new State Police firing range.
Residents of the area, adjacent to the Pachaug State Forest, had fought the project and were successful in drawing support from area legislators, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, and from Lamont and his running mate, now-Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, who went to the site last July and declared their opposition.
Courtney said Friday afternoon that in taking Griswold off the table, Lamont "had made the right call for people of this community and for eastern Connecticut. I welcome his decision to take a fresh look at this issue, and in particular his focus on evaluating the use of existing ranges and facilities to augment the training needs of our state police — an approach I have called for since 2015."
At a press conference announcing his nominee for commissioner of administrative services, Lamont said he had directed his administration to review alternatives to meeting the training needs of the police.
State Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, who represents the area, also praised the decision: "I am so happy for the volunteers who are a part of the ‘Keep Griswold Quiet’ group. They have been heard. Their hard work has paid off. Griswold will be kept quiet, after all.”
The state had presented a plan to build the 55,000-square-foot acility on 113 acres off Lee Road. The state had reached a deal in August 2017 to buy the site for $1.1 million from its owner, Lewis Button III, a state employee, but kept it secret until March 2018. The planned facility would have included three gun ranges and a classroom building. The state also would have to build a road to connect the site. Opponents put the total cost as high as $30 million.
Somers had called it a "sweetheart deal."
Support for the project appeared to be wavering at the state level with state police command staff preparing to take a fresh look at the project’s cost and feasibility.
Neighbors of the property expressed happiness in the decision. “It gave me goose bumps,” Griswold resident Steve Douglas told The Norwich Bulletin. “Such a relief, I can’t even tell you.”
Douglas, who lives about a mile and a half away from the proposed site, said that as a Vietnam veteran he had a personal reason for opposing it. He said he was still dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and worried that gunfire would aggravate it.