Union League addresses noise from shootings

In response to noise complaints from neighbors during last winter’s trap shooting season, the Union League of Philadelphia will be shooting in a different direction when the 2016–17 season opens next month at the League’s Torresdale country club.

League officials announced the change during a meeting of the West Torresdale Civic Association last Thursday.

Ed Turzanski, who chairs the League’s House Committee for the Torresdale site, told residents that the shooting range will be rotated to face the south and east. Shooters will aim their shotguns toward the golf course and clubhouse. The target area will face away from Byberry Creek, surrounding woods and neighbors’ homes.

Some WTCA members asked Turzanski if the League would make that assurance in a formal letter.

“If you want it in writing, you’ll get it in writing. It will be turned around,” the League official said.

Prior to the start of the trap season last fall, the League rotated its recreational shooting range. For decades under prior ownership, the range faced toward the south and east. The Union League took control of the facility in 2014 after a merger between the League and the financially struggling Torresdale-Frankford Country Club. The League then invested $8 million in renovations.

Last fall, close neighbors of the club first reported hearing loud bangs emanating from the site on weekends. They learned that the League had an active recreational shooting program. Although city zoning documents confirmed that shooting had been legal at the club for decades, neighbors insist that the range had been long dormant.

In response to noise complaints, the city’s Air Management Services office sent inspectors to measure the sound and determined that the shooting exceeded typically allowable levels. Club officials maintained that state law pertaining to long-established gun clubs supersedes local noise ordinances.

The reconfiguration of the range is the primary component of a multi-faceted strategy that the club is implementing to mitigate the spread of noise. According to Jeff McFadden, the general manager for the Torresdale site, the League intends to build an earthen berm between the range and neighboring properties and will plant additional evergreen trees to enhance the buffer. The League will erect a “trap lodge” structure to further shield the range from nearby properties.

Further, the League will move some of its shooting activities to a more-rural club in Bucks County. The upcoming season is expected to run from late October through late March with shooting sessions at Torresdale generally every other Sunday. Sessions won’t start before noon and will usually last for a few hours.

In other meeting business:

• An officer from the Philadelphia Police Department’s Neighborhood Services Unit informed residents how to report problems with abandoned cars, abandoned properties, illegal dumping and other non-emergency issues. The police unit accepts those types of complaints via telephone at 215–685–9500. Further, residents may call City Hall directly to file complaints by dialing 311.

• An aide to state Rep. Martina White invited seniors to her office’s Senior Dance party on Sept. 29 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the District Council 21 hall, 2980 Southampton Road.

In addition, White’s office has a drop-off box for worn American flags. The Boy Scouts from St. Anselm Church collect old, unwanted American flags so that they can be disposed properly. The office is at 10752 Bustleton Ave., Suite C.

• The civic association and the office of City Councilman Brian O’Neill may be seeking community support for the installation of speed cushions to control traffic on Avalon Street between Academy Road and Berea Street. Neighbors previously asked for the installation of stop signs in the area, but the Streets Department rejected the request after conducting a traffic study.

To get on the waiting list for speed cushions, at least 75 percent of property owners on a block must sign a formal request. After that, the Streets Department will do a feasibility study of the requested location.

• The civic association is planning a community cleanup along Chesterfield Road and Berea Street on Oct. 22. Volunteers will likely gather at the intersection at about 8 a.m. and work into the afternoon. The plans are tentative. The finalized plans will be posted on the West Torresdale Civic Association Facebook page. ••