North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Marysville considering fireworks ban

The Marysville City Council discussed a potential ban of fireworks in the city during their July 28 meeting.

 


A complete fireworks ban is under heavy consideration by the Marysville City Council, who voted to form a committee to study the issue during their July 28 meeting.

City councilmembers reported that illegal and improper use of fireworks has made the council revisit the issue.

“I enjoy fireworks a lot. I don’t enjoy crazy people and fireworks and I think that’s really the problem: the behavior of a few citizens ruining it for a lot of folks,” said council president Jeff Vaughan.

This year nine incidents of fire and three incidents of injury were reported to Marysville’s Fire Department.

Those may not represent all incidents though, said Fire Division Chief Tom Maloney, because sometimes the public doesn’t call and sometimes the call doesn’t get grouped with the fireworks calls.

“We try diligently to track fireworks so that we can see what they cost, because we add extra personnel for that,” he said.

Over the last six years, 90 calls have been directly related to fireworks that have caused some type of property damage, according to Maloney.

Police Chief Rick Smith said the police department has been issuing more citations in recent years.

The department had been issuing warnings before to educate the public but has moved on to stricter enforcement, especially in this last year in which they issued 35 citations, including five on the Fourth of July.

Firework Bans

In Washington state a city banning fireworks has to wait at least a year for the ban to take effect, so the earliest a ban could be active is the 2016 Fourth of July.

Eight out of 18 cities in Snohomish County have banned fireworks, including Everett, Woodinville and Edmonds. In King County, 22 out of 35 cities have banned them.

Councilmember Jeff Seibert wondered how effective bans were, drawing on his experience of when Everett put their ban into place.

“It seemed initially it took a couple years for it to quiet down, and I don’t know if it’s resurged or if they’re still happy with how it worked?” he asked.

In Everett, and other places that enacted bans, you will still here fireworks, said Police Chief Smith, but it is not the constant three hour drone of explosions from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

“I think the folks that are law-abiding citizens will shut their fireworks down. I think there will be a decrease. Do I think we’ll get rid of it completely? No, because of where we are with Tulalip and Boom City. However, no matter what we’re going to have to deal with folks that are a little crazy,” said Smith.

He argues that a ban gives far better results in curtailing the use of illegal fireworks though, especially after the first couple years of educating the public.

Smith said his colleagues in other cities are happy with their bans, because there is no ambiguity in enforcement. With total bans you do not have to determine if a firework is illegal or not.

Finding the perpetrators is also easier when there are not fireworks going off on all streets, he added.

“By and large I think the cities that have banned it are much happier after the Fourth of July,” said Smith. “And it’s hard for me to say because I like fireworks, I really do. What I don’t like is illegal fireworks and being crazy about shooting them off and the impact of those illegal fireworks.”

City-Sponsored Show

The potential for a city-sponsored fireworks show was proposed by councilmember Stephen Muller.

“I would hate to say citizens can’t have fireworks without at least providing a community event to replace that,” he said.

Parks and Recreation director Jim Ballew notes that the small fireworks shows Marysville currently runs cost between $5,000 to $8,000 and the Maryfest fireworks cost between $15,000 to $20,000.

Mt. Vernon’s Independence Day show costs about $30,000, he added.

Beyond the cost, the fact that a city-sponsored show would be so close to the Strawberry Festival celebrations could be problematic and “quite taxing on staff,” said Smith.

Finally, the city doesn’t have a big enough facility to accommodate all the people that would likely come, said Ballew.

Economic Benefits

Council president Jeff Vaughan wanted to make sure all sides of the issue were being looked at, especially since it’s “certainly easy to point out all the detriments,” and he brought up the economic benefits allowing fireworks could bring.

“Someone recently said something about Marysville becoming a place to shoot off fireworks because they can’t where they live. At first I thought, ‘well that’s concerning,’ but they are coming here and maybe spending money while they are here,” he said.

Selling fireworks can also bring money into the community.

“At the retail level, many of the service clubs [Fourth of July sales] are their biggest moneymaker of the year, and that’s a lot of projects that service clubs and churches do because of that money,” said councilmember Donna Wright.

Vaughan noted that sometimes communities have strange events, like the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally or Running of the Bulls, and while Marysville isn’t that extreme, “there are some communities who put up with crazy things because they see some benefit to it.”

Future

The Marysville City Council voted to form a committee to study the issue and bring their conclusions to a future meeting.

Vaughan notes that public input will be important to the process. He floated the idea of an advisory vote or citizen focus groups to get an accurate feel of public opinion.

The council takes next month off so the discussion will continue in Sept. at its earliest.

If the council wants a ban in place for 2016 they will have to complete it before June of next year.

“I will tell you that if there is a ban and it starts in 2016, 2015 is going to light up,” said Police Chief Smith.

 

Reader Comments
(0)

 
 

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2017