Photo by The Daily Courier.
Originally Published: July 2, 2016 6:03 a.m.
PRESCOTT – After years of uncertainty about whether the City of Prescott’s Fourth of July fireworks would be able to go in the middle of wildfire season, the display will move this year to a more controlled downtown setting.
Fifth floor of Prescott’s parking garage to be closed to parking July 3-4
PRESCOTT – The fifth floor and the ramp leading to it in the city’s downtown parking garage on Granite Street will be closed to parking from Sunday through Monday, July 3-4, to prepare for and conduct the Fourth of July fireworks display.
A city news release states that all vehicles must be removed from the fifth floor and ramp leading to it before 4 a.m. Sunday, July 3.
“Remaining vehicles will be towed at the owner’s expense,” the news release states, adding, “Despite the partial closure, 390 parking spaces will remain available to the public on the first through fourth floors.”
As a reminder, the news release also noted that Saturday, July 2, and Sunday, July 3, are on the list of “charge days” at the garage, at a fee of $5 per day with all-day in-and-out access, subject to availability of spaces.
Parking on Monday, July 4, is free to the public. Further information about the parking garage and a full list of charge days is available at: www.prescott-az.gov/services/streets/parking.
At 9 p.m. Monday, July 4, the community’s fireworks display will launch from the roof of the City of Prescott’s downtown parking garage – a switch from the more than a decade of displays at Pioneer Park in northeast Prescott.
Prescott Fire Marshal Don Devendorf says that while precautions still would be necessary at the parking-garage setting, the wildfire scenario will shift.
“Every year I can remember, it was touch and go,” Devendorf said of the previous Pioneer Park fireworks displays, which were launched from a ballfield in the midst of mostly chaparral terrain. “It has always been a measured risk.”
The city and the U.S. Forest Service regularly worked together to mitigate that risk by wetting down the area around the fireworks site, and by having dozens of firefighters on hand.
Still, Devendorf said, “It was a complicated and technical plan.”
This year, the fireworks shells will be smaller, and the launch site will be bordered by mostly asphalt and concrete.
In addition, Devendorf said several firefighters will be stationed on the parking garage roof to patrol and monitor the fireworks’ fall-out, and two fire engines will be positioned on the streets below.
“That’s the minimum,” Devendorf said, explaining that more personnel could be added if conditions, such as strong winds, warrant it.
Before a request for proposals (RFP) went out earlier this year seeking private companies interested in taking on planning for the July 4 celebration, Devendorf said the Prescott Fire Department determined what the “fall-out” area would be for the fireworks at the downtown parking garage.
Using industry standards for fall-out distance, Devendorf said the department determined that a maximum of three-inch shells would be allowed on the parking garage.
The venue change was brought on, in part, by recent city budget cuts, which led to the elimination of the special events manager.
Still, Steve Gottlieb of Eagle Management and Events, LLC – the organizer of this year’s event – said the consistent worry about wildfire was one of the reasons he proposed moving the fireworks and celebration to the downtown area.
The “uncontrolled liquor” brought on by the coolers that were allowed at the Pioneer Park event also contributed to the decision, he said.
Finally, Gottlieb cites the potential for more commerce in Prescott’s downtown as another reason for changing venues.
And even though downtown parking is limited, Gottlieb and Prescott Deputy City Manager Alison Zelms maintain that the situation would be similar to finding parking for Prescott’s popular parades.
“We have a lot of events downtown, and we do have a lot of people coming to the parades,” Zelms said. The RFP opened the process up to new ideas, she said, adding, “If something needs to shift (next year), we’ll try something else.”
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