Hughestown Borough officials continue attempts to reduce gunfire at private shooting range

By B. Garret Rogan - For Times Leader | September 17th, 2015 10:44 am

HUGHESTOWN — Borough officials believe they are on track to reach an agreement to reduce gunfire at a private range in a rural section of the municipality.

Some residents, however, remain skeptical and continue to press the borough’s council and mayor for action.

During August’s regular council meeting, officials announced efforts to meet with Ken Novakowski, who operates a private shooting range off his property on Parsonage Street in hopes of establishing hours of operation and a list of persons he authorizes to utilize his facilities.

Novakowski met with borough officials on Sept. 10 at which time officials reported Novakowski claimed he only allows family members to shoot during daylight hours. Hughestown officials also stated Novakowski told them he does not allow assault rifles to be fired on the premises.

Borough solicitor Angela Sperrazza described the meeting as an “opening of a channel for communication” and characterized it as the beginning of a process to balance residential concerns with rights of the property owner.

Residents in attendance at Monday’s meeting. however, reported that, as recently as this past weekend, assault rifles were fired and gunfire in general continued past dusk.

Borough resident Sally Healy was not satisfied with steps toward resolution that Hughestown officials offered. She questioned why it has taken several years to have the meeting.

Although Hughestown has an ordinance prohibiting the establishment of a shooting range within the borough, the policy has thus far been interpreted as to only prevent new ranges from being opened, not impeding the current one.

Hughestown officials have also recognized Novakowski’s right to operate a private range so long as it is not a functioning business and poses no threat of harm to anyone.

Mayor Wayne Quick Jr. and council member Barbara Gatto stated the current administration is choosing to take different measures than those of the past.

While Quick was a member of council in 2013 when complaints about the shooting range were common, neither Sperrazza nor current Police Chief Jeff Balut were involved with Hughestown’s municipal government until 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Council members advised residents to continue to call 9-1-1 whenever they have concerns for their safety or if they feel the public peace is being interrupted while discussions continue with Novakowski.

In other matters, the council reminded residents of the upcoming Circus Circus sponsored by the Hughestown Volunteer Fire Department.

The event will be held at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 25 and 3 and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26 on the fire department grounds on Center Street.

By B. Garret Rogan

For Times Leader

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