CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham Township Committee and the police department are working on a plan to reduce the noise of gunfire at the outdoor range located on Southern Boulevard behind the Public Works Department garage.
The discussion was prompted by a letter from Richard Matlaga of Dale Drive, who also spoke during the public portion of the meeting held Thursday night.
"I had to listen to the constant sound of automatic weapon gunfire going from early in the day until 8 p.m. in the evening," Matlaga said. "It is becoming a far too frequent occurrence--and gunfire--the pop-pop-pop-pop--is becoming a part of the 'normal' sound landscape of Chatham Township.
"I know situations where our neighborhood children were unable to take their afternoon nap or go to sleep at night because of the gunfire. Eating dinner to the sound of an automatic weapon firing is upsetting, especially since we are all too familiar with that sound from the news. As one neighbor said, we are becoming desensitized to the sound of gunfire."
Matlaga pointed out that he had heard from neighbors living Aberdeen Road, Dale Drive, Floral Street, Gates Avenue, Holly Drive, Joanna Way, Mitchell Avenue, Noe Avenue and other areas.
"I live outside the areas you describe and it's very prominent," Thomas Ciccarone, township administrator said. "The chief and I have spoken about this and we're working on a plan to muffle the noise. The recommendation is to eliminate some of the agencies that use our facility. There are other places available to them."
Police Chief Steven Hennelly estimated that there are 10 to 12 municipalities which make use of the township range. Also, the FBI also shoots there.
"We're going to have a consultant come in and see if we can make some modifications to the range to muffle the noise," Chatham Township Police Chief Steven Hennelly saids. " We're also going to scale back the use of the range."
Mayor Nicole Hagner said a recommendation to address the problem should be ready for discussion at the next committee meeting.
At the meeting, it was revealed that longtime township attorney, Carl R. Woodward, will be retiring at the end of the year. Woodward has served as the township attorney for more than 21 years. The township resident noted that he had been involved in local government for 33-plus years.
The Township Committee announced that it will change its meeting schedule for November. Instead of two meetings, the committee will meet one time, Nov. 14.
The committee unanimously passed a resolution that approves the relocation of the Community Garden to Woodland Park and establishes a joint Community Garden of the Chathams. Also approved by resolution was the appointment of township members to the joint community garden committee.
Committee member Kathy Abbott, Caroline Yourcheck, Jessica Romeo and Diane DuBrale were picked to represent the township. There is still one opening for a township resident willing to serve on the new community garden committee.