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Marysville bans fireworks; public talks of other options
MARYSVILLE – The Marysville City Council voted Monday night to ban fireworks within the city limits.
The vote was 4-3. Council members Stephen Muller, Jeff Seibert, Michael Stevens and Donna Wright voted for the ban. Jeff Vaughan, Rob Toyer and Kamille Norton voted against it.
Because of a state law, the new law will not going into effect for a year. That means it will still be legal to shoot off fireworks this Fourth of July and on New Year’s Eve.
Vaughan had concerns that possession of fireworks in the city would be a crime, even if they weren’t being shot off.
“This still needs work. We have time to do this right,” he said.
Norton said she was open to exploring other options.
“It’s the illegal activities people object to,” she said.
Norton said she would support a partial ban, so people could still enjoy July 4 with smaller fireworks, such as sparklers and fountains. They don’t create a lot of noise or a lot of trash, she said, adding she also would like to look into the idea of having an area where people could set off fireworks.
Wright said it was a tough decision for her because the money raised by nonprofits selling fireworks does good work. She also likes that it brings families and neighbors together.
On the other hand, she lost a pet to fireworks, veterans suffer trauma from them and it cost taxpayers money for Public Works Department to clean up afterward.
“The mess that’s left,” she said.
Muller said he also lost a pet to fireworks.
“It’s gotten out of control,” he said. “We need to start to reign it in.”
Council Member Michael Stevens said he was disappointed in the process of having an advisory vote, something the council had never done, Vaughan has said. Stevens said he has “amazing memories of watching organized displays in the Washington, D.C., area. Even though personal fireworks were outlawed, he recalled playing with sparklers and feeling “naughty but fun.”
In Marysville, he recalls setting up lawn chairs and watching “the hillside blow up.” But because of public safety concerns, he decided to vote for the ban, “and I say this with a heavy heart.”
Police Chief Rick Smith fireworks complaints calls actually are down the past few years, from 251 to 198 last summer. He admitted officers have a difficult time citing fireworks violators.
With a ban, “It would be easier for us to enforce the law.”
Muller added, “They don’t have the manpower to enforce it.”
Vaughan said the City Council has tried many different things to try to reduce fireworks woes in his 14 years on the board. The time has been cut back from three days to 14 hours, for example.
“I love fireworks. I love shooting them off. But I’m scared to death to be away from my house on the Fourth of July,” he said.
Vaughan said he is glad the council has taken its time on the issue and tried to consider everything because it will “impact the city for years to come.”
“I’m disappointed on the (sudden) fast move to act,” he said.
BY STEVE POWELL
MARYSVILLE – About 14 people spoke at the public hearing on fireworks Jan. 25, with many supporting finding an open area where people could set them off.
Virginia Seubert said she supported a ban.
“Marysville is ridiculous. The Fourth is so loud - miserable,” she said, but added a designated open area that people could use to set fireworks off would be a “win-win for everybody.”
Jack Easterbrook said the city should have two or three designated areas were fireworks could be discharged.
“They shouldn’t be eliminated entirely,” he said. “Fireworks in a clear area I have no problem.”
Personally he’s not that crazy about them. He said one year his front law looked like a war zone but a neighbor came over and cleaned it up.
“I tell my neighbors the only time I don’t like them is on the Fourth of July,” he said.
Rebecca Lohman said there are other options to a ban, such as letting people shoot them off in an open-field area, such as off 152nd, or having a public display.
She was more upset that the council has taken so long making a decision. “It’s had a life of its own,” she said.
Lohman said the fireworks advisory vote ban passed in November, and where she comes from, “Whoever gets the most votes wins.”
She said she knows its a tough decision, weighing individual rights against the needs of police and fire.
Kathleen Hamel said a simple way to celebrate the Fourth with family and tradition would be an organized public fireworks display.
“We had magnificent fireworks” growing up in D.C. with kids shooting off smaller fireworks, too, she said.
Karen Gower suggested cutting back the time to discharge fireworks.
We could “honor traditions and families allowing fireworks for two hours, from 9-11 p.m.,” she said.
Gower added that bans next to tribal lands do not work, specifically mentioning Everett. She said if legal fireworks are banned, more people will just buy them from the tribes. She also suggested limiting sales of fireworks even more.
Nonprofits also would be hurt by a ban, two speakers said.
Danny Richards of Mountain View said selling fireworks has been a great fundraiser.
“Most people celebrate responsibly. A full ban is too much. It’s not a real solution,” Richards said.
He said police just need to enforce the law that’s in place.
“It’s an honored tradition, one day a year,” he said of fireworks.
Brandon Hart, youth pastor at Mountain View, said a fireworks ban would hurt nonprofits who “try to do the right thing the right way” by selling the regulated and safe ones.
“It’s great to think all the problems will go away” with a ban, but they won’t because we’re right next to Boom City, he added.
Garrett Mackey said he is a fan of fireworks.
“I’m proud to be an American. It’s a tradition, a way we celebrate our freedom.”
But two others spoke strongly against any fireworks.
“Every year the celebrations get longer and louder,” Robert Weiss said.
Like Lohman, Robert Pearce said he was fed up with the inaction of the council.
He said as a veteran he is as patriotic as anyone, but he is tired of all of the illegal fireworks.
“Failure to act is akin to adding and abetting,” he said.