An idea that sprang last summer from conversations between three area village presidents is nearing reality as a number of communities are assessing whether to join in to pay for a state-of-the-art regional shooting range at Triton College.

Draft copies of an intergovernmental agreement, which spells out construction and operating costs as well as many other details about the facility, went out near the end of March to 14 likely participants, including Riverside, River Forest, Oak Park and Forest Park. Triton College also will be taking part.

Each will review it and decide if they want to formally sign on. College trustees will vote after all the community agreements are received. No timetable for when that will take place has been set, college officials said.

If the shooting range comes to fruition, it will be the first large-scale collaboration between the college and the communities in the district. 

The range being contemplated is a 6,160-square-foot facility with eight shooting lanes. The cost is estimated at $2 million and will be funded through a bond issue paid off over 20 years. 

Costs will be borne by individual participating communities, with contributions based on the number of full- and part-time officers in each department. A pro-rated share of the operating costs will be kicked in as well. 

Annual construction and operation costs for local communities would be:

Riverside, 19 officers, $6,826

River Forest, 28 officers, $10,059

Oak Park, 116 officers, $41,676 

Forest Park, 44 officers, $15,808

Total cost over the 20 year period would be: 

Riverside, $45,509

River Forest $67,067

Oak Park, $277,850 

Forest Park, $105,391

Costs could change if more communities decide to sign on or if towns elect not to join in, said Doug Olson, Triton’s vice president of academic and student affairs. 

The notion of a regional range started last year. With his town’s range in disrepair, Oak Park Village President Anan Abu-Taleb asked River Forest Village President Catherine Adduci if his town could use her community’s range. Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone had been thinking about the idea as well, since his town did not have one.

“I suggested why don’t we think bigger and find a shooting range for the three of us,” said Adduci. “This is reasonable and it’s the right thing to do. This is the right place to start.”

The River Forest Village Board will take up the issue at its April 13 meeting, Adduci said.  

After other conversations last year, college officials came back with the concept of constructing a full-fledged $20 million training facility with computer labs and loads of opportunities for real-life simulations. Because the costs were prohibitive, a shooting range came forward as the best option to take on in the beginning.

But it was uncertain until last year if it would be economically feasible to build it at all. To make it cost-effective, enough communities would have to sign on. There would need to be 350 officers at a minimum, and the cost would be $286 per officer. 

The maximum would be 1,244 police officers — all of the police officers who serve within the Triton College district — at $80. Operational costs, such as paying for lead scrubbers, servicing the range and other items, will be borne by Triton.  Ammunition and overtime would have to be paid by the communities.

Calderone said he hadn’t seen the agreement and could not comment. Efforts to reach Abu-Taleb and Riverside Village President Ben Sells were unsuccessful.