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Controversial shooting area could become public park

Posted at 7:09 PM, Nov 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-21 00:23:32-05

A controversial shooting area could be developed into a public park through an agreement between the City of Buckeye and Bureau of Land Management.

Earlier this year, the federal agency “presented it to us as an opportunity,” said Robert Wisener, the city’s conservation and project manager. In February, BLM closed the area near I-10 and Miller Road — more than 1,000 acres — to conduct repairs on damaged utility equipment and following the death of 24-year-old Kami Gilstrap.

Investigators said Gilstrap was hit by a stray bullet that was likely fired from the site, popular with target shooters. 

City council is expected to vote on whether or not to move forward with the land acquisition process in the spring. If approved, the city would need to conduct necessary planning and environmental studies but could acquire the land for free.

“If you look at it geographically, it’s right in the heart of the city,” Wisener said. Potential plans could include sports fields, hiking trails and other amenities. 

BLM is conducting its own study to clean up the area and analyze potential ground contamination. It could take up to two years for the deal to finalize.