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Nassau County shooting range closed temporarily

The rifle and pistol range at the Mitchel Field Athletic Complex is scheduled to reopen Monday. County officials declined to detail the reasons for the closure.

Nassau's only public shooting range at Mitchel Field

Nassau's only public shooting range at Mitchel Field Atheltic Center in Uniondale, as seen on Oct. 11, 2008. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Nassau County's only public shooting range has been closed temporarily amid an active investigation, and two management employees have departed in connection with the matter, a county spokeswoman said Tuesday.

County officials declined to detail the reasons for closure of the facility, which is scheduled to reopen Monday.

But Nassau Public Works Commissioner Kenneth Arnold said Monday during a legislative hearing that closure of the rifle and pistol range at the Mitchel Field Athletic Complex in Uniondale, “revolved around the sand berm and removal of lead.”

Arnold discussed future projects involving air filtration and installation of a new HVAC system in the building, He said the sand berm that catches spent shells, "has probably too many bullets … and needs to be cleaned."

Legis. Howard J. Kopel (R-Lawrence) interrupted, asking Arnold if "park workers tried to do it themselves and they were unsuccessful."

Arnold replied: "The park workers brought in a vendor, without any contract to do work … That's being looked at … "

Nassau Civil Service Employees Association President Jerry Laricchiuta said he was aware of the issue. How the vendor "got in is under investigation,” Laricchiuta said.

Discussion of the issue came as county legislators reviewed a $296,000 agreement to replace the exhaust system, to filter out any airborne dust and lead. "Currently, there is no filtering system. We just push air through the building," Arnold said.

Christine Geed, a spokeswoman for County Executive Laura Curran, said, “This is an active investigation, and the county will not be commenting. The closure of the rifle range is an active investigation, and the county will not be discussing it further."

Geed confirmed that parks department employees Brian Nugent and Timothy O'Connell had left their jobs; one resigned and the other was let go, Geed said. Asked about the different dispositions, Geed said: “We cannot confirm this information. It is the policy of Nassau County to not comment on personnel issues.”

Nugent and O'Connell did not respond to requests for comment.

The rifle and pistol range has six ranges and 30 individual shooting points, according to the county's website. On Tuesday, the website said the range was, "closed for testing."

The range also is used by local law enforcement agencies, security companies and United Nations security officers, said Brian Schneider, the deputy county executive for Parks and Public Works.

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