Twenty-four years ago, I was employed by Jefferson County, Colorado as a full-time environmental and public policy mediator and facilitator.  In that role, I facilitated long-term issues groups discussing various land use proposals (gravel quarries, road locations, landfills, etc.).  One of those major projects was a potential public access shooting range to be located somewhere within the borders of the County.  This Shooting Range Task Development Force and its follow-on group, the Implementation Committee for a Shooting/Sportscycle Combined Facility met for nearly three years.  The final result was a plan for a facility that was mostly never built.  The site selected at that time was already largely occupied by a sportscycle track (as it still is today) – hence the plan for a combined facility.  There was a portion of the plan which involved a relatively small shooting range for use by law enforcement personnel, only.  That facility was constructed on land to one side and above the track and is in use, today.  However, the plans for the multi-use, public access shooting range remained (literally) on the shelf.

At the behest of the County Commissioners, Jefferson County Open Space has revived this issue.  The “Jefferson County 2014 Public Shooting Range Working Group” has been formed.  It is meeting once per month and will report its findings to the Board of County Commissioners in July of this year.   As the Director of Jefferson County Mediation Services, I was asked to form a team to facilitate this group.  Since I facilitated the previous shooting range group, Open Space asked me to be the lead facilitator, this time.  So, I am heading a team of three facilitators who are facilitating the new Working Group.  Its first meeting was held this week, on Wednesday, March 12, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Jefferson County Open Space.  The meeting agenda is posted on the Open Space website and a press release about the Working Group is also attached.

The organizer of the Working Group, Nancy York, told the members in her announcement about the meeting: “Mark Loye, Director of Jefferson County Mediation Services has graciously agreed to facilitate all working group meetings with his team that includes Devin Rau and Jenna Ambacher.  We are so fortunate, as Mark lead the effort 25 years ago in search of a public shooting range in our County…in the same room where we’re meeting!   What a goldmine of institutional history he possesses on the topic.”

The work I did on this project nearly a quarter of a century ago was fascinating and helped to hone my skills as a Group Facilitator.  I learned techniques I still apply today while doing that work.  Wednesday’s meeting of this new Shooting Range Working Group has confirmed my belief that facilitating it will be equally rewarding.

The first meeting of the Working Group was convened as planned.  The Director of Jefferson County Open Space & Parks was present as a member of the group, as was several of his staff (to serve as other Group members or as technical support).  Other governmental entities were represented on the Group, including:  the Sheriff’s Office, Planning & Zoning, the County Attorney, municipalities within the County, Denver Mountain Parks, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, PLAN Jeffco and the Open Space Advisory Committee.  The membership of the Working Group was rounded out by four interested citizens with knowledge of shooting disciplines and/or range construction and operation.

With the assistance of my co-facilitators (taking flip chart notes, making suggestions, clarifying members’ comments to be recorded, etc.), I facilitated the Group’s first meeting.  In that first meeting, the Group was able to get to know one another, agree on a set of ground rules, begin discussion of major issues (scope of a possible facility, and operating, construction, funding and site selection criteria) and set up three subcommittees: 1) Investigation of potential facility sites; 2) Facility construction & design; 3) Facility funding considerations.  Each subcommittee has a designated point person to interface with Open Space staff and schedule its meetings.  If possible, one of the three facilitators will facilitate each subcommittee meeting.  Each subcommittee is to report its findings to the full Working Group at the next plenary session scheduled for Wednesday, April 9, 2014 (again from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.).  The use of subcommittees is an effective way to augment the efforts of a working group like this, which has a limited number of plenary sessions (in this case four or five) to accomplish a major task.  I commend the members of the Working Group for accomplishing so much in its first session!

As the Working Group and its subcommittees continue to meet, I will continue to write about it and the new lessons I learn.



Post Photo by Glen Martin