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A box canyon at the Los Flores Ranch recreational space soon will be home to a shooting range for Santa Maria Police officers, who were left without a range when the department moved into its new headquarters on Betteravia Road four years ago.

The outdoor range, which will have four shooting lanes, will be located on a 5-acre site at Los Flores Ranch, a 1,778-acre space that is also slated to be the location of the new Santa Maria landfill.

The city of Santa Maria will be accepting bids from companies interested in constructing the project until June 18. The bidding process began May 21.

Once completed, the range will be for the exclusive use of Santa Maria Police officers, who are required to qualify quarterly on a range, according to city spokesman Mark van de Kamp.

Santa Maria Police had an indoor shooting range at their old headquarters, in downtown Santa Maria, but the range was closed down after the department relocated to a new building.

Currently, Santa Maria Police train on private property through an agreement with the landlord.

When not using the private property, officers rent range time at Camp San Luis Obispo or at Hancock College’s law enforcement academy in Lompoc — both of which take officers out of the area and cost money, van de Kamp said.

The city engineer’s estimate for the construction cost is $200,000 to $250,000, which will come from the city's general fund. The estimate did not include the cost of any design work that may be required, said Eric Riddiough, senior civil engineer with the city of Santa Maria.

Riddiough said the city hopes to award the bid in mid-July.

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“We’re anticipating to start construction in August and have it open for [Santa Maria Police] in October,” he said.

Firearms training would occur about 10 times per month, with a maximum of 20 police officers on site at any given time, van de Kamp said.

The location of the range within Los Flores Ranch, which is also used as a recreation space with bike and pedestrian trails, was selected carefully, Riddiough said.

“The shooting range is tucked back in an enclosed canyon that’s isolated from the rest of the ranch,” he said.

To mitigate any environmental impact from range activity, the city will maintain records of rounds fired, van de Kamp said. When 100,000 rounds have been fired per shooting lane, lead collection will take place to prevent lead buildup.

The construction work will consist of clearing room for the four shooting lanes, removing trees, shrubs and other foliage, laying decomposed granite on the ground, improving the access road and building a parking area.

While no plans exist for any permanent structures, there will be parking space to house a trailer with a mobile classroom and a 2,500-square-foot shoot house, used to train for close contact combat in urban environments.

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Razi Syed covers Santa Maria City Government for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.  Follow him on Twitter @razisyed

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City Government

Razi Syed covers city government for the Santa Maria Times. He is a graduate of Fresno State University and New York University.