Showdown building over plan for gun range fee - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Showdown building over plan for gun range fee

Koko Head Shooting Range Koko Head Shooting Range
Gary Cabato Gary Cabato
Harvey Gerwig Harvey Gerwig

KOKO HEAD (HawaiiNewsNow) - It costs the city about $600,000 a year to operate and maintain the Koko Head Shooting Range. The only public outdoor venue for gun owners to fire weapons is run by the City Department of Parks and Recreation.

Now director Gary Cabato has set his sights on charging shooters an hourly fee.

"A nominal fee of $3 to $7 might be reasonable to sustain the complex, to make the necessary improvements," he said.

Up to 7,000 people use the range annually.

Harvey Gerwig is president of the Hawaii Rifle Association and is a firearms instructor. He feels a fee isn't fair.

"I think it's the city's function to keep all the parks in good condition," he said. "Are we going to charge people $7 to go to the beach? I would hope not."

Cabato said the money would help with upkeep costs at the aging facility.

"The money would pay for things like targets, probably help to pay for any repair work that needs to be done," he said.

Cabato wants to build barriers between shooting stations, add additional bathrooms, and hire part-time staff to extend hours.

But the City Council is concerned with who gets charged.

Vice-Chair Ikaika Anderson drafted Bill 60 that specifies the charge "only apply to groups whose use of a facility falls outside of normal operational hours" and requires an attendant to be on duty.

Gerwig wants assurance the money wouldn't slip into the city's general fund.

"If there's going to be a fee we want it special funded so that it can only be used at the range," he said.

Cabato said that's part of his plan, and he thinks he can convince shooters they'll get a good bang for their buck.

"My biggest support will be the fact that there's only one public firing range," he said.

Cabato said he's also looking at the feasibility of charging user fees at city run tennis and basketball courts, and swimming pools.

The City Council takes up the Koko Head Shooting Range fee next week.

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