Friday, January 7, 2005
Selectmen support fireworks for Old Home Day
The Board of Selectmen held a public hearing on December 15 concerning the proposed fireworks display for Old Home Day 2005. Earlier in the year, Selectman Chair Tim Hult had recommended a fireworks public hearing to include the community and abutters after Old Home Day Chair Dave Reed conceded that if abutters object, "that's a showstopper."
Reed began the hearing by explaining that two sites are under consideration. The Banta-Davis Field off Bedford Road is the perfect location from which to fire a mortar, with the town watching from Spalding Field. An alternative site is Spalding Field, whose smaller area would require a more compact display with correspondingly lower cost. A considerable price break can be had if the fireworks are not held on Fourth of July weekend, so Reed is proposing to hold the fireworks display on Sunday, June 26, the day after Carlisle's 200th anniversary and Old Home Day (OHD) celebration on Saturday, June 25.
Reed, accompanied at the hearing by Fire Chief Dave Flannery, anticipated safety concerns from abutters and onlookers and described the fireworks display in detail. The Banta-Davis site is sufficiently remote to require five-inch shells for adequate visibility. A rough estimate of the height, and therefore the safe perimeter distance for viewing in case a shell tips over and goes off, can be determined by multiplying the shell size (5) by 70 = 350 feet. Spalding Field would probably be limited to four-inch shells and would only require a viewing perimeter of 300 feet. Reed estimates that the display will begin at approximately 9 p.m. and contain about 1,200 shells, of which 30% will be "loud," and the entire display will be over in 20 minutes.
At this point, Hult asked if anyone in the audience would like to speak. Mary Zoll of School Street, and located in the line of fire from both proposed sites, immediately raised her hand. "I object to the fireworks," she said. "I would prefer that they don't have them. They're noisy; they scare the animals, and they send the wrong message to our young people." Zoll would prefer to celebrate Carlisle's 200th with the country fair and associated town activities on OHD. She was not, however, intending to be a "showstopper" and admitted that her objections were all "for personal reasons." To demonstrate her willingness to compromise, she concluded by saying, "I'll just go someplace else that night."
When asked whether this might become an annual event, Reed quickly assured the audience, "This is a one-shot deal for the 200th anniversary." In addition, he promised everyone that it will be funded entirely by donations from local businesses and not be a burden to the taxpayers.
Regarding mosquitoes, which notoriously invade Spalding Field after dark, Reed claims to have access to a garlic spray that bugs hate. Whether Carlisle's residents will be welcome in polite society the day after, remains to be seen.
Fire Chief Flannery poured some cold water on the proceedings by explaining that the fireworks display site must be inspected by the state fire marshal's office. "They are very strict. They fail more than 50% of the proposed displays." On that somber note, the Selectmen voted 3-0 to close the public hearing. They then voted unanimously to authorize the OHD Committee, Inc. to use either Banta-Davis or Spalding Field for a fireworks display. Reed concluded by saying that if the fireworks show goes ahead as planned, they will be shooting off a few practice rounds (with adequate warning) in the days leading up to the display.
© 2005 The