West St. Paul City Council Guns Down Gun Range Proposal

Dehn, Raymond Dehn, Mayor, Election, 2018

WEST ST. PAUL, Minn. – The West St. Paul City Council canned a proposal for an indoor shooting range that would take the space a Kmart formerly occupied.

City Manager Ryan Schroeder told the Pioneer Press Tuesday that the gun range does not fit in the city’s vision in its “Renaissance Plan” for South Robert Street. That plan covers 2.5-miles on the state road, and is hoping for a mix of housing and retail developments at the site.

Chris O’Keefe, the West St. Paul resident who masterminded the gun range proposal, feels that the city council did not even give him a decent opportunity to lay out his plan before they dismissed the idea.

According to the Pioneer Press, O’Keefe believes the renovations and other steps necessary for the shooting range to come to fruition would cost roughly $3.2 million. He claims he has investors all lined up to make the proposal a reality, but they will not commit until they have a clear go-ahead signal from local government. O’Keefe said his experience at a West St. Paul City Council meeting was that he started delving into more specific numbers on his proposal, when members of the city council cut him off, prematurely ending his presentation.

“I started laying out some numbers and it was like, ‘OK, thank you, Mr. O’Keefe.’ I was basically cut off,” O’Keefe told the Pioneer Press. “As far as I’m concerned, I went to the city council and they didn’t give me an opportunity to present or show them any numbers.”

Schroeder said that there would have to be changes to local zoning ordinances in order for the gun range to get a green light. That plus the city council’s less than enthusiastic response has O’Keefe acknowledging his dream is a quite the long shot now in his interview with the Pioneer Press.

Anders Koskinen