0

Fireworks squabble worked out

ALBANY, Ga. -- Cooler heads have since apparently prevailed, but an exchange among a pair of Albany City Commissioners and City Manager James Taylor at a pre-briefing prior to the commission's business meeting Tuesday night left the city's planned Independence Day fireworks celebration in doubt.

Ward II Commissioner Ivey Hines broached the topic by asking Taylor about moving the fireworks show from the downtown area, where unruly teenagers have disrupted the event two of the last three years, to the Exchange Club Fairgrounds in Southwest Albany. Ward VI Commissioner Tommie Postell, who'd just arrived in the meeting room, picked up on the conversation after Taylor responded to Hines' question.

"I don't like the idea of having citizens pay to see the fireworks," Postell declared. "I'd rather not even have fireworks than to make people pay."

Taylor, who said Wednesday morning he'd polled commissioners after the meeting and had gotten a green light from each of them to go forward with the celebration, told Postell, "Y'all take the vote, and I'll cancel (the fireworks)."

Taylor told Hines, and he reaffirmed Wednesday morning, that he'd worked with Recreation and Parks Director Suzanne Davis as well as city fire and law enforcement officials to come up with an alternate plan after officials at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany canceled the base's annual July 4th celebration.

"We did not put any money in our budget for fireworks this year," Taylor said. "I talked with folks at the Marine base, and they said initially they planned to host a huge celebration and open it to the public. Then, with sequestration, they told us they planned to have a celebration just for the base. Finally, though, they said they couldn't work fireworks into their budget.

"I called Suzanne and asked her if it was too late to do some kind of fireworks show. We talked with law enforcement officials, and they said it would be difficult to do anything downtown. We're planning to use the (former) First Tee area as a downtown events location, but it's not ready. The sand hazards are not covered and there's a drainage ditch that might be hazardous for kids. So we started looking at other sites."

Davis said she found a willing new partner in the Exchange Club.

"(Exchange Club officials) said they've been wanting to have a July 4th event for years, so this turned into a perfect partnership," the recreation director said. "Everyone with the club has been very receptive, and they've been wonderful to work with.

"We had to have that kind of cooperation to put together a full-fledged, all-day, 3-til-midnight celebration with music, family entertainment, vendors and the fireworks."

Exchange Club President Skip Nichols said the club had not held an Independence Day event in the past out of deference to the city's celebration. But he said club members were more than happy to fill the breach.

"I've always thought we had the facility that would be perfect for this kind of event; we can do a bunch of stuff out here," Nichols said. "Downtown they have parking issues when it comes to large crowds, and, of course, they have security issues.

"What we plan to do is park the cars, just like we do during the fair. Cost will be $5 a carload with up to six people. Any more in a car, or any who walk up, will be $2 a person. We'll issue an armband that will allow them to get into the fairgrounds."

Funds taken in will be divided between the city and the Exchange Club, but the percentage has not been determined.

Hines told Taylor Tuesday night he was concerned about the message sent by moving the fireworks event out of downtown.

"We're encouraging people to come downtown, but we move a signature event away from downtown; what kind of message does that send?" Hines said. "I believe we're setting up an image that downtown is not safe. And then you have to wonder about the other events that are held there."

Taylor said his motives were misconstrued.

"I regret if that's the impression you got," the city manager said. "As a matter of fact, when the base canceled their show, I was determined to have (a fireworks) event to show (people who disrupted past events) that they were not going to spoil this for the entire community.

"Rather than have no Independence Day celebration, I dug and found the money to put one on."

Postell chastised Taylor for "not telling this board when you make a major decision like this."

Taylor said Wednesday he had emailed commissioners with the plan and had gotten no negative feedback. He said when he polled the board after its meeting, he informed commissioners he would "cancel the event (Wednesday) morning" if they were opposed to it.

Comments

dickyboy 1 year, 1 month ago

OK Tommy, you stay downtown with your thugs and enjoy... Get you a couple of sparklers..

1

Amazed2 1 year, 1 month ago

Post ell is always against anything and any idea that anyone comes up with. He wants something in return. I have a few bottle rockets and some roman candles left over that Tommy can have too. He can hold hid own display.

0

bennydawg 1 year, 1 month ago

"we're setting up an image that downtown isnt safe".....

NEWS FLASH....there was a SHOOTING last year at the event. The only way I would go is if we have swat teams out.

0

KaosinAlbany 1 year, 1 month ago

I am very disappointed that Hines and Postell are against this idea when they were asked and gave a green light. I volunteer my time to help this town put on events and this is a slap in the face to me. Suzanne is doing an excellent job so please do not run her off. She has worked hard and has others in the community working hard to help pull off this event. Don't go and ruin other people's good time just because you can. Hines, you are going to have a hell of a time trying to get re-elected.

1

KaosinAlbany 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you Mr. Taylor for standing your ground to Hines. I support your efforts.

0

Amazed2 1 year, 1 month ago

I really think Mr Taylor should have turned the tables on Hines and Postell and dumped the Yes or No back totally in their lap. Tell them to put on agenda discuss opposition at open meeting and then Vote on it. Make it be known public ally these are the bad guys in trying to shut it down. Welcome to Albany !

0

Amazed2 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you Mr Taylor for you efforts.

0

Amazed2 1 year, 1 month ago

By the way where is our Mayor " Dorothy of Dougherty". She is out doing proclamations and kissing babies u guess!! She seems to rarely be involved.

0

Roger_B 1 year, 1 month ago

I am proud that the Fireworks will be at the Exchange Club Fairgrounds. Although the City is planning to have the 4th of July Fireworks downtown next year, I hope that it goes so well this 4th that they will reconsider and keep it here indefinitely. The Exchange Club is a great group and I thank God that they were willing to step in to the void and work with the City!

1

MRKIA 1 year, 1 month ago

DOROTHY IS IN OZ GIVING THE WIZARD A PROCLAMATION FOR HIS OUTSTANDING WORK IN MUNCHKINLAND.

0

Roger_B 1 year, 1 month ago

I hope Dorothy gives you an honorable mention.

0

Amazed2 1 year, 1 month ago

Quite Honestly I hope the Exchange Club continues the event with open invitation to the City of Albany , But if Postell and Hines want to get together with City supplied Free sparklers and firecrackers then so be it. Maybe then the Police can handle crowd control. At least all the people of Dougherty County and the region can choose an event . At this point we cannot count on the MCLB to sponsor another Fireworks display. Heck currently the Air force has entire squadrons of multi million dollar planes that can't fly because the Obama gov is broke. Thank you Skip and the Exchange Club for steppi g up this year.

0

Amazed2 1 year, 1 month ago

Yea Dorothy probably still out Proclomating somewhere. Her and the great Oz still consulting on the fireworks.

0

KaosinAlbany 1 year, 1 month ago

The Commission says that the citizens are the ones who are negative and blah, blah, blah but when people come together for a positive cause and try to help the city the citizens still get sh@t on. The Commission is causing the negative air in this town and the citizens need to wake up and quick re-electing these negative nobodies.

0

VSU 1 year, 1 month ago

Starting with Tommy Postel. I think it would be a wonderful idea having the fireworks at the Exchange Club Fairgrounds.

1

Sign in to comment