Darien High turf good for athletics, bad for fireworks
DARIEN — This year’s Fourth of July fireworks, typically set off from the high school multipurpose field, bring with them a new set of issue after improvements made to the facility in 2016 thanks to the Darien Athletic Fund.
“We are taking a risk, there’s no doubt about it. This is a brand new turf field, but no one wanted to say no to fireworks,” Selectmen Susan Marks said.
Marks, along with Representative Town Meeting member Stacey Tie, is helping to organize the annual celebration, and has been working with the Board of Education to alleviate concerns about potential damage to the field from the fireworks.
“In the past we’ve launched the fireworks off of a grass field. 2017 we’ll be launching the fireworks, fingers crossed, off of a turf field. And questions were definitely asked at Board of Ed meetings — would the turfing of that field have any implications on the fireworks?” Marks said.
Marks said she has consulted Fire Marshal Robert Buch, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Daniel Brenner, Chairman of the Board of Education Michael Harman and representatives from the company from which the town buys its fireworks to develop a plan. A tarp will be laid down across the field, which Brenner has asked be wet down before any explosives are lit, and fewer low fireworks will be launched than normal.
The fireworks and tarp will be purchased with money raised by local developer David Genovese. The town’s contribution is $13,000 to pay for police at the event.
“At this point we are fairly confident that July 1 there will be a great fireworks show with a rain date of July 2,” Marks said.
Music, too, may be an issue, as neighbors expressed concern over the installation of a new sound system along with the turfing of the field, and limitations were placed on noise from the high school. Though the town does not use the school’s sound system for the show, they’re awaiting approval from the Board of Education on the playing of music.
Marks also mentioned the continued question over whether shooting the fireworks from a barge docked off Weed Beach might be a better option. She noted, however, that police feel moving people up and down Nearwater Lane to the beach would pose too great a safety issue.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, however, was hopeful that other large events scheduled at Weed Beach in the coming months might lead the way for future offshore fireworks shows.
“Maybe the For Michael event (a fundraiser focusing on addiction) and the Weed Beach Fest this year will serve as a positive example of how you can have larger groups at Weed Beach and still maintain safety,” Stevenson said.