The Independence Police Department should have its bottom floor shooting range in the Central Police Building back in use by the end of the summer.

The City Council approved the contract for the renovation project with a $545,340 price tag. The contract is with Idaho-based TRS Range Services, which specializes in firing ranges for law enforcement agencies across the country, and it states the gut-and-overhaul project will be completed within four months of its start.

The police shooting range was constructed in 1972, with no extensive reconstruction since. It's been out of use since August, when a stray bullet ricochet during a training session left an officer with a minor injury

Chief Tom Dailey told the council earlier in the month the range had been targeted for replacement when police safety sales tax initially was approved by voters in 2004, but a revenue shortfall due to the recession shelved the project. The department put in extra catch blankets to briefly extend the firing range's lifespan, but the training injury necessitated more drastic circumstances.

“The amount of weaponry, training and liability has increased drastically the last 40 years,” Dailey said.

Since August, IPD has been using the Lee's Summit Police range for its training, an arrangement aided by the fact LSPD Chief Travis Forbes had been a deputy chief under Dailey. For rifle training, officers had already been using the outdoor range in Sugar Creek, though availability is severely limited due to its popularity with other law enforcement agencies.

Police say the renovation project will lessen the range's number of stationary booths from five to four, and a non-stationary drill (using barricades or dim lighting to accurately reflect conditions in the field) might allow for just two users, but it allows for rifle training.

• The council also approved a rate schedule for the community solar energy program this week. Customers can buy energy from the 3-megawatt solar farm, scheduled for construction this year, at 1.65 cents per kilowatt-hour, which city officials say works out to an extra $2.37 per month on the average residential electric bill.

The council had approved the solar panel farm, to be constructed on land above the Space Center caves east of Missouri 291, last December. The power purchase agreement called for at least 25 percent of the annual energy production from the solar farm to be committed in order for construction to begin.