LINCOLN HEIGHTS, Ohio — For Lincoln Heights resident Carlton Collins, the Cincinnati Police Department's nearby firing range isn't just a noise nuisance. He said it's impacted his children's education during the pandemic.
"So many kids, so many parents, so many of their classmates and teachers on the other ends of these cameras have been hearing these gunshots, and it's been absolutely horrendous," Collins said, referring to the Cincinnati police firing range training facility that straddles Lincoln Heights, Woodlawn and Evendale. He's also a member of The Heights Movement, an organization working to relocate the range.
Now, money from Hamilton County's American Rescue Plan pandemic relief fund could be the long-awaited solution to surrounding communities' issues with the facility. The county administration will take public comment on how best to spend the $159 million in relief funding Tuesday and Thursday of this week.
A proposal before the county would use $5 million of that funding to relocate the firing range.
Daronce Daniels, executive director of The Heights Movement, said the location of the firing range -- which has sat at its current spot for roughly 80 years -- has become a generational issue for the surrounding communities.
"That sound, in itself, is so traumatic that it's affected generations to the point where a lot of folks say I don't hear it anymore, which itself should just set off an alarm," Daniels said.
For Daniels, relocating the firing range would provide direct pandemic relief, especially for communities of color.
"When you talk about stimulus relief, pandemic relief, I think this is the perfect way to really show…how the pandemic has impacted Black and brown communities," he said.
For Collins, it's not just about his children schooling from home; the firing range's location also impedes his city's ability to grow economically.
"It (would reset) economic opportunity for the community of Lincoln Heights," he said.
In a statement, Cincinnati Police chief Eliot Isaac said he's not opposed to relocating the facility, but he added that the new location would need to make the same accommodations as the current.
"Right now, there is no proposed solution to the issue," Isaac said in the statement.
That answer made Collins feel frustrated, he said.
"There's been opportunity to start drafting plans, to look at what this would look like," he said.
Still, he and Daniels said the potential for county assistance through the COVID relief bill has renewed some hope.
"We have to take our small wins where we can get them, so that hope is tremendous," Daniels said. "And here's why, for 75 years, that hasn't been the hope. For 75 years it has been: Just deal with it."
In addition to the county's two public hearings this week, The Heights Movement is holding a town hall meeting on Wednesday, June 2.