No fireworks at Fishback

Metro photo

BROOKINGS – The public will not be setting off fireworks at Fishback Soccer Complex for the Fourth of July this year. The item died for lack of a motion at the Brookings City Council meeting on Tuesday.

The council did approve Eric Rasmussen as the assistant city attorney.

Fireworks

Interim Fire Chief Pete Bolzer said the city does not currently allow residents to discharge fireworks within city limits.

During a May meeting, the council requested information on the public discharging fireworks in a central location, and the city of Watertown was specifically identified as allowing fireworks at their soccer complex, Bolzer said.

Watertown has allowed fireworks around Lake Kampeska, which is northwest of Watertown, “due to an annexation policy,” Bolzer said, but “they passed a resolution that rescinded that approval specifically in their city parks out there and the resolution designated their soccer complex as an agreeable site.”

That was only after the president of Lew’s Fireworks submitted a plan to the city of Watertown, with safety requirements, including oversight by Lew’s Fireworks and participants having to sign liability waivers, with very little involvement by city staff, Bolzer said. City staff was responsible for some clean-up on July 5.

He reviewed requirements and found that Fishback Soccer Complex is the only location in the Brookings city limits that will meet the distance requirements.

“Staff recommends that an ordinance revision occur only if a local business or organization develops a safety and operational plan that’s approved by the city manager, fire department, police department, Parks & Recreation Department and the city attorney,” Bolzer said.

Mayor Ope Niemeyer called for a motion, but no one on the council made a motion. 

“Seeing no motion, item dies,” Niemeyer said.

Councilor comments

Councilor Leah Brink asked if an interested party would come forward, “would we have room to bring this back next year?” and asked about costs, so the council could know what to expect.

Many items and labor needed for the Watertown fireworks were donated, Bolzer said, estimating the plywood cost about $900.

If someone came forward immediately with a plan and all the necessary components, all the council would need to do is pass a resolution at the next meeting, Briseno said.

“I believe Steve (Britzman, city attorney) researched that; already has language drafted,” Briseno said.

It is probably too late to do it this year, but if someone wants to bring a plan forward, the council can discuss it and determine parameters, Briseno said.

Councilor Patty Bacon asked Bolzer if he was comfortable with Watertown’s plan. Bolzer said he would want an allowance for environmental conditions.

“Especially this year, it’s been hot; it’s getting really dry out there,” Bolzer said.

He said he agrees with Watertown’s rules. They were taken from the American Pyrotechnics Association pamphlet on fireworks.

Brink noted that since the Fishback complex is the only location that meets the distance requirements, she wanted to know what the requirements were.

“Consumer fireworks can go up to one inch in size. And under the APA and the NFPA standards, you need 150-foot fallout range for something of that size,” Bolzer said, adding he looked at the proximity of other city lands, as well as noise pollution and other factors.

Tilton Byrne brought up the noise factor, citing the proximity of the soccer field to residential areas and families with young children or pets. She wasn’t sure about moving forward with the issue at that location, even though it was the only one that fit the criteria.

“I still have a lot of concerns about this,” she said, adding she was not familiar with Watertown’s site. “For our community, I’m just not sure I’m comfortable with utilizing that space.”

One of her concerns was fireworks could be set as late as 11 p.m. “and maybe even place a burden on the Humane Society for dogs that get out because we know that that is something that tends to happen when fireworks are being set,” she said.

Councilor Joey Collins agreed with Tilton Byrne, saying he didn’t like the location.

“I also think about not only the pets, the animals, I also think about the veterans with PTSD,” said Collins, a former Army paratrooper.

Assistant city attorney

City Attorney Steve Britzman explained the need for an assistant city attorney. 

“This is a request for assistance or help. I’ve reached the age where it’s probably long overdue,” Britzman said. 

Britzman said he’s known Eric Rasmussen since the 1960s.

“We’ve been friendly colleagues for all our years here in Brookings. So I think Eric will be a welcome addition to providing services to the City of Brookings. He has a lot of municipal experience,” Britzman said, adding it would help to have someone who could fill in when he goes on vacation or needs help.

Brink asked about Rasmussen’s ties to the community and whether they would provide a conflict.

“I believe that the Planning Commission position that he currently holds would be incompatible with this position, but he understands that, so there’ll be action taken there,” Britzman said.

The council approved the appointment unanimously.

Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected]

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