North Adams awaits insurance quote for gun range

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NORTH ADAMS — Mayor Thomas Bernard reaffirmed Monday that he is willing to keep the city's shooting range open — under the right circumstances.

The city is awaiting quotes for a new insurance policy on its public gun range, which is set to close at the end of the year due to a lack of coverage.

City officials recently completed an application for an insurance quote through Greylock Insurance Agency and is waiting to see if any insurers will offer coverage — as well as the price and parameters of the policy.

In June, Bernard announced that the city's insurer had been unaware that the Pattison Road shooting range was open to the public, and that coverage would cease on July 1, 2019. Therefore, Bernard said he would move to close the range to the public at the end of 2018, but continue its use for police training.

Earlier this month, the City Council passed a resolution imploring the mayor to seek alternative insurance coverage and keep the range open.

"The council pushed back on this based on a significant number of meetings and dialogue held in the Public Safety Committee and in full council," said City Councilor Benjamin Lamb, who chairs the Public Safety Committee. "Hearing from a passionate group of community members who have relied on this resource for decades spoke deeply to the need to do our best to maintain a facility we have, as a city, provided for generations of safe gun use."

The insurance application process began on Sept. 25 and included detailed accounting of operations at the range, which does not have a budget or any staff of its own. The range's current operations do not meet the standards of national organizations cited in the application, according to Bernard.

"There's no guarantee that based on this application anyone will be willing to take on a policy," Bernard told The Eagle on Monday.

Residents sought out and received a quote of $700 annually for coverage of the range that it presented to the council, but it remains to be seen at what price the city can obtain its own quote.

The cost of the policy itself is not the only monetary consideration. An insurer could require that the city meet certain operational standards — which may require investment by the city, Bernard noted.

Discussion about the gun range started earlier this year through the City Council, which forwarded a number of questions about the range's operations to the mayor's office. It was in investigating these questions that Bernard said the city learned its insurer was unaware of the range's public use.

"It wasn't something that I set out to address," Bernard said. "This is one of those tapestries that when you start to pull at a loose thread it starts to unravel."

The range had 82 permitted users as of this month. Although that's an increase of about 20 since June, Bernard noted that it's just three more users than its peak last year. About one-quarter of the range's permitted users are not North Adams residents.

At council meetings, users of the range have expressed a willingness to increase their annual fee — currently $20 for North Adams residents and $25 for nonresidents — to cover the additional insurance cost.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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