Woods tries to work out fireworks roadblocks

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published March 5, 2015


GROSSE POINTE WOODS — The fireworks plans at Lake Front Park are on shaky ground after the City Council appeared on the verge of canceling them for this year, but the council isn’t giving up yet.

“I remain committed to continuing the Grosse Pointe Woods family fireworks tradition and am confident that we will be able to do so in some form,” Councilman Todd McConaghy said in an email.

The Grosse Pointe Woods City Council seemed as if it was gearing up to vote to cancel the proposed fireworks for this year at Lake Front Park prior to the Feb. 23 council meeting.

They had voted 5-2 during a Committee of the Whole meeting earlier in February to move forward with the Fireworks Committee’s recommendation to not proceed with the 2015 fireworks at the park.

The council was slated to tackle the recommendation at the Feb. 23 meeting, but the council voted unanimously to send the proposal back to the Committee of the Whole for more consideration. The next meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. March 9, where council will discuss options like hosting the event on a smaller scale and brainstorming other possibilities, according to city officials.

The fireworks are a longtime tradition in Grosse Pointe Woods, but that tradition turned sour for some last year after unruly crowds and possible gang activity caused the city to consider whether it should continue hosting fireworks.

Many residents and city officials wanted to see some type of display, so the city looked to host it at the resident-restricted Lake Front Park.

The Fireworks Committee and city officials set off to work out the details, but there were concerns. Among those were parking, limited viewing due to trees and boats, costs like the need to pay double-time to bring in St. Clair Shores police officers, costs for city employees, a required shutdown of several residential canals and small marinas for the event, and more, according to city information.

Councilman Kevin Ketels, who was one of the two council members who voted against the recommendation to cancel the fireworks plans at the park, said he hopes the council can come up with family-friendly options so the city can host something for the residents.

“The event would likely need to be smaller than what we have done in the past,” he said in an email. “Options may include land-based fireworks, collaboration with the Ford Estate, or a different lake-based launch configuration.

“It needs to work operationally and be fiscally responsible,” he said. “We’ve asked administration to explore the options and see what is possible. … I hope we can find a way to keep the Fourth of July celebration and also start some new traditions.”

McConaghy was the other council member who voted against the 5-2 Committee of the Whole recommendation.

Councilman Richard Shetler Jr. voted among the five to send the recommendation to the Feb. 23 council meeting. He, however, made the motion to send the discussion back to the Committee of the Whole to keep working on the possibilities.

It seems that council members want to see some type of celebration take place for the residents, if concerns can be alleviated.

Shetler said there is a lot of research that needs to go into determining the feasibility of hosting something this year, but he hopes they can have some type of fireworks show.

He said the council wants to take another look at the options.

“We’re just trying to make sure that we don’t leave any stone unturned.”

Kettles said city officials have received feedback from residents.

Resident Christopher Profeta is one of the residents who wants to see something move forward. 

“I was initially skeptical of moving the fireworks to the park, but if the choice is between a scaled-back version at the park or nothing, I think most residents would expect their elected officials to tackle and solve the challenging issues, not throw in the towel,” he said in a Facebook response to the Grosse Pointe Times prior to the Feb. 23 meeting.