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M'ville talks of possible fireworks ban on July 4
MARYSVILLE – The Marysville City Council exploded with ideas on how to deal with problems associated with Fourth of July fireworks – ranging from an all-out ban to putting on its own community event – at its meeting July 28.
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City Councilman Jeff Seibert said he is ready for a ban, but is willing to get more information from the public.
"Most of the people who talk to me don't like it," he said of the fireworks. "So I have a bias, but I'm open to other ideas," he said, adding he did not want a public hearing on the issue.
Council President Jeff Vaughan was a firecracker on the other side of the issue.
"My sons would be disappointed if I led the ban on fireworks," he said.
Vaughan pushed for more openness on the issue. "Public input is important to the process," he said.
Vaughan said he wants to look at all aspects of the issue. He wants to know what the economic benefit is to the city. He said he knows people who come here to shoot off fireworks because they can't elsewhere. He compared it at some level to the Harley Davidsons going to Sturgis, S.D., or the Running of the Bulls in Spain.
"Some areas put up with things because there's some benefit to it," Vaughan said, adding he wouldn't mind looking at an advisory vote of the public on fireworks.
Councilwoman Donna Wright said she was concerned about the service clubs and churches that would lose money from selling legal fireworks. Those events are often their biggest fund-raisers of the year.
"It's the illegal stuff people get mad about," she said of fireworks sold on reservations.
Police Chief Rick Smith agreed.
"I like fireworks," he said. "But I don't like illegal fireworks and the crazy people who shoot them off."
Smith said a ban would help police.
"It would make it easier to respond, and enforcement would be quicker," he said. "There's no ambiguity. Cities that have banned them are much happier after the Fourth of July."
Councilman Stephen Muller said fireworks in town "have gotten out of hand" but he wondered if the city should look at a replacement community event instead. He said a fundraiser could be done to raise money.
A bunch of numbers were tossed around on what it would take to put on a show, ranging from $5,000 to $30,000.
"For about two-thousand dollars we could put out maps to Mount Vernon," which already has a show, parks and recreation director Jim Ballew joked.
Ballew added that the city really doesn't have a venue big enough to put on such a show. It also was brought up that the Fourth is so close to the Strawberry Festival that it would be tough to do another community event.
"It's quite taxing on staff," Smith said.
Fire Marshal Tom Maloney said the department has received 90 calls in the past six years around the Fourth. Many other people don't call because they put fires out themselves.
"We try diligently to track them," he said. "We add personnel."
Earlier in the evening, during the public comment section, David Reisner of Marysville complained about the fireworks around 83rd. He said he also complained last year and was told his area would be targeted by police.
"I stay home to protect my house from fireworks," he said. "I want to know what targeted means so I'm not blind-sided again. We're surrounded by heavy-duty fireworks."
Smith said targeted means police patrol the area looking for violators. He said more warnings and tickets were given this year than ever before.
"Everybody feels your pain," Mayor Jon Nehring said.
Thanks to Vaughan's urging, the council voted to set up a committee to study the issue. Citizens will be involved, along with a service group and pro-fireworks person. The panel will report back to the council in September.
"It's a shame that a few citizens are ruining it for a lot of other folks," Vaughan said.