KODIAK — The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly voted to extend the sales and use of fireworks for 15 days after the eventual lift of the state ban on them.
KIB code allows for use of fireworks between June 15 and July 15 to celebrate the Fourth of July, but fireworks have been banned for much of that time due to weather conditions. The temporary ban on fireworks sale and use was implemented on June 27 by the state fire marshal and is still in effect.
“My request doesn’t cost any money,” said Les Seaton, part-owner of Les and Dan’s Fireworks stand, at a KIB Assembly meeting on Tuesday. Seaton added that his request for a change of date was so he could “stay open for a bit, move some product, get some fun out there and give back to Kodiak.”
With the extension approved, Kodiak residents will be able to use fireworks beginning when the fireworks ban is lifted and for the 15 subsequent days. Les and Dan’s Fireworks stand will remain open during that period. According to KIB code, use of fireworks outside of permitted dates is punishable by a penalty of up to $1,000.
The extension passed four to one, despite opposition from community member Joanne Shaker, who was present at the meeting. Assembly Member James Turner voted against the extension. Assembly members Julie Kavanaugh and Andrew Schroeder were not present.
“The extension would be nothing more than a handout to the fireworks stand,” Shaker said. “If the fireworks stand has inventory left over, they can save it and sell it during New Year’s, which by ordinance is the next legal window for sale and use.”
“For the assembly to be able to change an ordinance without the proper public notice or input from the public on such a contentious issue would just be wrong.
“I have not had anyone tell me that their holiday was ruined by not being able to shoot fireworks. On the contrary — everyone I talked to has been ecstatic there have been little to no fireworks. They said they didn’t have to worry about their animals, they were able to sleep with their windows open during the hot weather. Most say this has been the best start to summer they can remember for a long time.”
However, Assembly Member Dennis Symmonds reported that he received an “overwhelming” number of phone calls supporting the extension.
Symmonds acknowledged that fireworks can pose a noise concern for residents that live near Mill Bay Beach.
“I get how big of a nuisance it is, especially when the sun doesn’t go down until midnight,” he said.
Lighting fireworks within the City of Kodiak limits is prohibited. Mill Bay Beach, which is outside the city limits, has become a popular site for fireworks use, despite its proximity to residential neighborhoods.
Assembly Members Scott Arndt and Rebecca Skinner proposed changing borough code to disallow fireworks use at Mill Bay Beach ahead of next year’s Fourth of July celebrations.
“That’s something I’m prepared to bring forward sometime in the next few months,” Skinner said, adding that she hopes for public input on the issue. “If we do have a restriction on Mill Bay Beach, I’d like to look at the idea of having some other designated area that can reduce the danger of fire but also be far enough away from dense residential areas to try and reduce some of the conflict.”
Seaton voiced support of a future ban on fireworks use at Mill Bay Beach, proposing to “make Pillar Creek Beach the new Mill Bay.”
“I encourage people to take [their fireworks] away from town. Get it out the road. Get it someplace where you don’t bother other people,” Seaton said.
Both Seaton and Arndt expressed gratitude to the residents of Kodiak for respecting the fireworks ban.
“I was thankful that people have been pretty observant of the ban,” Arndt said. “I know there are a lot of people who had already bought them and I appreciate them refraining during this period of dryness.”