Fireworks show survives last minute protest
June 19, 2013The July 4th fireworks show dodged a flying toad last week, as a local resident citing concerns about the endangered Arroyo Toad came close to succeeding in once again killing the annual event that is scheduled to be held near the VC Community Center.
Although it has been known for a year that a fireworks show was being planned for July 4 on the Belanich property next to VC Community Center, a resident who opposes the event waited until recently to file a complaint. The County acted on the complaint—and for a while it appeared as though the event might be cancelled.
However on Tuesday, Kelly Crews, who heads the non-profit that puts on the show, signed with relief as she said, "It looks like a go!" At least for this week.
On June 12 Kelly Crews, who heads the non-profit group that puts on the show, received this communication from Joann Fang of the county Dept. of Environmental Health. "A Valley Center resident has asserted to the Department of Environmental Health (DEH), through County Counsel, that the proposed event (Valley Center 4th of July) would release perchlorate to soils in the vicinity of the event, and that this contamination would run off into Moose Creek, potentially affecting the Southwest Arroyo Toad and other species of toads. DEH will consult a County biologist to better understand the substantive merits of that assertion, and other assertions of potential environmental impacts from this event. We will then determine whether further environmental review of the proposed event is required under the California Environmental Quality Act. We will communicate with you further on this issue as we make progress."
Fang later wrote Crews, "At this time we are not able to approve or deny the Community Event Permit, but are bound by ordinances to review any assertions of potential environmental impacts. Please send me your most current report information (the version I have from last year has DRAFT on it) and any signed/completed waivers you've received for the 2013 event.
I will provide it to the biologist and County Counsel for review."
But then on the 18th Mrs. Crews got this communication from Rodney F. Lorang, Senior Deputy
Office of County Counsel: "This is notification, on behalf of the County Department of Environmental Health (DEH), that the County has determined that no further environmental review of the fireworks display event that you have proposed for July 4 in Valley Center is required, and that environmental issues will not preclude issuing a community event permit for this event."
For several years a VC resident, who lives near the Community Center, has objected to the fireworks show for various reasons, although the most consistent one is that she fears its effects on her horses. She was able to get the show stopped three years ago when the VC Parks & Rec. board determined that it would need to require an environmental impact report before allowing the show on its property. So the following year the organizers moved the actual fireworks to the adjacent property owned by Belanich, with the Community Center providing the property where people could watch the show.
If the show goes forward without further threats, viewing of the fireworks will be from the Valley Center ballfields on Parks & Rec District property, although the fireworks will be shot from the adjoining property of John Belanich.
Viewers should bring their own chairs and picnic dinner. Blankets are also a good idea, as sometimes it can get chilly. The VC Kiwanis Club will serve food and Charlie Smith of Country Kettle Corn will sell his sweet and salty snack. A church group may offer face painting and inflatable jumpers will also be available to play on for a $1 suggested donation.
Parking will be across the street at VC Municipal Water District property. The $4 fee collected will benefit the California Highway Patrol Explorers.
This year the CHP will be onsite to direct traffic. They will turn off the signal lights to get people in and out as fast as possible.
Over the past year Mrs. Crews has been working on collecting money from major donors and now has $34,000 including $20,000 from Valley View Hotel and Casino as presenting sponsor, $2,000 from Arie DeJong, $2,500 from Darlene Shiley, and $2,500 from SDG&E. In addition, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians donated $7,000 for logistical support.