Next Tuesday, the City Council will consider a new location for the Fourth of July fireworks and celebration. The Fullerton Union High School stadium is no longer available for such purposes. News of the impending change has been known for some time, yet Parks & Rec waited until 2½ months before July 4th to bring this to the council for a vote. Great planning!
Have a look at the agenda letter:
“Although considered, some of the these venues don’t have the sufficient capacity to hold the expected crowds and comply with Fire Department’s ingress / egress requirements; adequate firework firing zones / fall-out zones; or are too costly.”
Say what? Three sentences later, they propose to use Hillcrest Park as a fireworks launch area. Yes, the same Hillcrest Park identified by the State of California as being within a “Moderate” Fire Hazard Severity Zone (FHSZ). The same Hillcrest Park that lost many trees during the multi-year drought. The same Hillcrest Park that had 50 to 75 trees planted on Arbor Day to replace what was lost during the drought. I think you get the idea.
No mention is made whether the Fire Department approves of this idea, only that the City’s “pyrotechnic consultant” gave the green light. One would think if the Fire Department expressed concerns about hazards at CSUF, Amerige Field, or the softball fields at FUHS, they would be just as concerned about mature trees at Hillcrest Park going up in flames.
For the sake of discussion, assume fireworks launched from Hillcrest Park will be deemed “safe”. How prudent is it to have festivities at Lions Field? The City spent an extra $1.7 million to install synthetic turf there in 2010. With extra foot traffic and “vendors, attractions, main stage, VIP and staff area…” using the field, preventing turf damage will be nearly impossible. Have they taken this into consideration? Probably not.
The agenda letter suggests “ample capacity” for necessities like parking. Lions Field and the lower Hillcrest parking lot have about 170 parking spaces. Everybody else will have to park their cars at North Court (like in previous years), the Elks Lodge, along Brea Blvd, at private businesses, or in adjacent neighborhoods. Parking problems will be an issue no matter where the festivities are held, unless, of course, CSUF could be used, which leads me to ask…
- Why is CSUF not a viable location? The agenda letter makes reference to another site being “too costly” but is devoid of specifics. I can only assume the location being referred to is CSUF. How much would it cost? Has the City approached CSUF for leniency on fees? What did they say?
- What about Fullerton College? Did the City approach NOCCCD about hosting the event there? What did they say?
- What about the Parks and Recreation Commission? How did they vote on moving the venue to Hillcrest/Lions Field? Oh, wait, the matter was never brought before the commission for a discussion and vote. Had the meeting not been cancelled, this would have made for a timely discussion at the March 13, 2017 Parks & Rec meeting.
This type of nonsense has, embarrassingly, become business as usual for the Parks & Recreation Department. The commission is regularly bypassed on important issues. When those issues are presented to the City Council for a final vote, the department does so on an absolute last-minute basis — often with erroneous or incomplete information — leaving no time for a continuance, or for other options to be explored.
The residents of Fullerton deserve a lot better. I wish the City Council and City Manager would put their foot down and say enough is enough.