Opinion

City Council to deal with fireworks, again

On Tuesday evening, after The Globe and The Times went to press, the Marysville City Council was slated to deal with the issue of the illegal use of fireworks. The proposal this time was to make the illegal use of fireworks a civil matter, rather than criminal, to make it easier to enforce the law.

This is not the first time the City Council has tried to deal with the problems of the illegal use of fireworks and the use of illegal fireworks within the city limits. In 2001 there was an organized citizen effort to get the Council to completely ban the use of all fireworks in city limits. To gauge public support for the proposed ban, a survey was conducted. Of the 299 responses received, 164 supported a complete ban while 135 opposed the ban. When the matter went before the City Council, dozens of people showed up to testify. After more than two hours of testimony most of which opposed the ban the Council voted 4-3 against the ban. They opted, instead, for a program of "Education and Enforcement" in an effort to curtail the illegal use of fireworks.

After a couple of years of "Education and Enforcement," and little reduction in the illegal use of fireworks, the Council again addressed the issue in June of 2005 when it voted 6-0 to approve an ordinance to change the times and dates which residents could legally discharge fireworks. Previously, fireworks could be discharged between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., July 1-4. Under the new ordinance, residents could only discharge fireworks on July 4 (and New Year's Eve). And the Council promised to continue the program of "Education and Enforcement."

Now, three years later, the Council has once again found itself dealing with the issue. The issue is two-fold the discharge of fireworks outside the times and dates allowed by city ordinance and the discharge of illegal fireworks. To many residents of Marysville, it seems that fireworks are being set off for weeks before and after the Fourth of July. It becomes a quality of life issue when the tranquility of the neighborhood is continually disrupted as fireworks are set off at all hours of the day and night. It's also a safety issue as the use of illegal fireworks presents a significant danger to people and property.

Many local communities have taken action to deal with the same issues Edmonds, Everett, Gold Bar, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo and Woodway all ban the use of all fireworks in their communities. And Arlington, Bothell, Darrington, Index, Lynnwood, Monroe, Stanwood and Sultan all restrict the use of fireworks within their communities.

Recognizing the tradition of using fireworks to celebrate the nation's independence, the Marysville City Council has been justifiably reticent to punish all residents for the misdeeds of some of the residents. They've taken a number of steps over the years in an attempt to deal with the issue while allowing the continued use of fireworks and Tuesday night was just the latest of those steps. Hopefully this effort will have more tangible success than past efforts. If some residents continue to insist on ignoring city and state laws dealing with when it's legal to discharge fireworks and what fireworks are legal to discharge, the Council may have no other option than to join the growing list of communities banning the use of all fireworks. If, under the new ordinance, local law enforcement is able to deal with those illegally discharging fireworks there may be no need for the Council to take further action. We hope people get the message and the Council is not forced to take that final action because it would be unfortunate if the irresponsible actions of a few were to make it so those who use fireworks responsibly wouldn't be able to enjoy them in the future.

If you are going to use fireworks to celebrate the Fourth this year, do so legally use only those declared "safe and sane" and allowed under state law, and use them only when allowed by city code from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. only on July 4. Also use them safely never allow young children to play with fireworks; read and follow all warning and instructions; never try to relight fireworks; keep a bucket or water nearby; and ignite fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from structures or flammable materials.

To contact a member of The Marysville Globe/Arlington Times editorial board Stuart Chernis or Scott Frank e-mail forum@marysvilleglobe.com.

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