Armory coming to Liberty
By Eli Ruiz
LIBERTY April 2, 2013 The Village of Liberty Planning Board welcomed a new business to Main St. at a public hearing last Thursday.
The board unanimously approved a special-use-permit for Kingston Armory, Inc., to establish a “light-industrial” machine shop for the purpose of the manufacturing and testing of firearm parts. Kingston will take over the old Ross Industries building at 308 North Main Street in the village.
Village resident Robert Rose voiced some concerns, including the amount of jobs that Kingston Armory will potentially bring to the village, the qualifications of “firearm testers” for the business, and noise from the operation.
Kingston Armory’s owner, Mike Kera from Dobbs Ferry, addressed Rose, noting, “When we initially get up to speed here… probably 20 or more [employees], initially just a few people. In a couple of years we hope to have from 20 to 40 employees, though. As far as the noise, you could stand right outside the place at the front door and you wouldn’t hear a thing… .you wouldn’t know we were there. As far as the firing range to test the rifles downstairs, it’ll be perfectly safe. People who will be doing that [testing completed firearms] will be trained to do that and you will not hear that outside… as a matter of fact, you probably won’t be able to hear it upstairs as it’ll be [done] in the basement.
“It’s the safest place I could ever think of,” added Kera.
Kera went on to explain some of the manufacturing process.
“We’re not stamping out big metal things,” he said.
In fact, the company actually makes the small parts used in the manufacturing of complete firearms.
“It’s going to be [computer-controlled] machines and you could stand right next to these machines and never know they were running… it’s safe and quiet actually,” Kera said, adding, “It’s not a shooting range; it’s a testing range and will not be open to the public.”
Terrance Day, who said he lives just across the street from the proposed lot, expressed concerns with the location of the armory and its approximation to all four of the area’s schools (Liberty Elementary School, Liberty High School, Liberty Middle School, and the St. Peter’s School). Day said, “I’m not at all against opening a new business in the village, it’s just that being that there’s four schools surrounding the area; would there be anywhere else… maybe on the other side of the village that you could go?”
Kera had a rather curt response: “I’m not even going to address that… I’m looking at this building, because of the building; not the town; the building. I like the building … and no, I’m not interested in entertaining those questions.”
Interested in entertaining Day’s questions, though, was planning board member Harry Rampe, who assuaged Day’s fears offering, “The building he’s [Kera] talking about is the old A&P building up there… it’s completely concrete, there’s only a couple of entrances or exits to it and the chances of anyone ever getting into it are zilch. They’ll [Kingston Armory, Inc.] also have a security system installed anyway. I’ve been in that basement many times, and personally, I think it’s a very safe place [for this kind of operation] and kids aren’t going to get in there.
“There’s no way a bullet would ever get out of the building,” added Rampe.
Kera said that the building’s composition [concrete and steel], and its seeming “safety” were the main reasons he considered the property in the first place and that he doesn’t foresee any future safety issues of any kind related to the armory’s operations in the village.
Fresh off a narrow election victory over incumbent Village Mayor Rich Winters, mayor-elect Dan Ratner was in attendance, along with Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development CEO Allan Scott.
“It’s not a munitions factory,” chimed in Ratner. “It’s more of a machine shop than anything else… they’re going to make parts, and those parts aren’t explosive in nature themselves… the amount of firing done there is going to be minimal.”
Ratner said he’s discussed the proposal with Village of Liberty Police Chief Scott Kinne, and related, “He didn’t have any concerns as far as safety.”
Scott told the Democrat, “Anything with a little bit of an economy and some jobs I’m absolutely there and for it.”
Area resident Helen Budrock, who said she was in attendance as an “observer,” said, “I think it’s a great idea… I’m all for it.”
Before he officially moves on the property which Ratner said is still owned by the “Ross family” Kera will enter into negotiations with the Sullivan County Partnership, as well as with the County’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) to gauge what kind of incentive package he might be offered for doing business in the area.
“The more people we employ, the better that means we’re doing,” affirmed Kera. “So we hope to employ a lot of people.”