Shooting range planned for former citrus grove

May 03, 2013 01:00PM

Mecca Farms

A former swath of citrus groves in Palm Beach County once earmarked for a research lab may instead become a shooting range, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

The county hoped to use the nearly 100-acre Mecca Farms for a biotech village anchored by the Scripps Research Institute, and sunk $100 million in public money into the failed project.

Scripps’ labs ended up at Florida Atlantic University’s Jupiter campus, and the project was scrapped.

A new state plan would use a northwestern portion of Mecca Farms for a state-owned shooting range to complement the adjacent 60,000-acre J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area.

Environmentalists opposed both plans, supporting a proposal to sell the land to the South Florida Water Management District to be used for water storage and Everglades restoration.

County Commissioner Jess Santamaria, whose district includes Western Palm Beach County, said there is space for both.

“It is something that the public has been wanting for a long time,” Santamaria was quoted as saying, referring to the shooting range. “I want to see Mecca Farms unloaded for a good purpose.” [Sun-Sentinel]Emily Schmall