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New fireworks show location draws complaints

By DAVID TEWES
July 5, 2010 at 2:05 a.m.

Debris from Sunday's fireworks show floated back to the ground near Ethel Lee Tracy Park, 701 E. Larkspur St. Some frustrated residents from the adjacent neighborhood on Monday picked up the loose debris.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Doug Cochran, director of parks and recreation, said he would review the fireworks show after he returns to the office.

"As far as a change of location, I will have to look at that some more," he said. "It's premature to comment on that right now."

You might have a tough time convincing Kyle Jones that moving Victoria's July Fourth fireworks show to the mall area was a good idea.

"I've got ash all over my front yard," the Park Stone subdivision resident said Monday. "It's all over my driveway and all over my patio."

Jones said Sunday's fireworks caused a small fire in his yard, scared his dogs and upset a retired neighbor. He called on the city to move the fireworks show.

Mayor Will Armstrong and Mayor Pro Tem Paul Polasek could not be reached by telephone for comment Monday.

Doug Cochran, Victoria's director of parks and recreation, said he hadn't received any complaints. But he noted Monday was a city holiday and he hadn't been in the office.

"I was out there and talked to quite a few people," he said. "I had one guy stop me and he said he thought it was a great idea having it at that location."

The fireworks show, which was at the community center for at least 25 years, was moved to the Victoria Mall area this year. The mall is located on North Navarro Street; the fireworks were set off from nearby Ethel Lee Tracy Park. The public was asked to watch the event from the mall parking lot.

Cochran has said the event was moved to the Victoria Mall for better security, lighting, parking and to protect the $12 million Youth Sports Complex. "The Youth Sports Complex is in the fireworks fall zone and the canvas shading and roofing are at risk from falling fireworks."

But Jones said his entire neighborhood is in the fall zone.

He said debris from the fireworks fell in his yard and caused a small fire. One of his dogs was so disturbed by the noise it vomited and another ran away in fear, he said.

People began showing up in his neighborhood as early as 5 or 6 p.m. for parties and to stake out a place to watch the fireworks from their cars, he said. The influx of cars was so bad it was difficult to walk in the subdivision, he said.

"The police had it blocked, but people were still coming in," Jones said. "All you had to do was tell them you lived out here and they let you in."

Victoria resident Sabrina Silva said she was not pleased with the way traffic was handled around the mall. She said she left before the grand finale and it still took her 45 minutes to drive from the JCPenney parking lot to the movie theater.

"It was so ridiculous," she said. "That's just not a good place to have it."

Silva said the main problems seemed to be the unattended four-way stop in front of the theater and people jumping the curb to cut in line. She said she was almost hit by one of the line jumpers.

There were police on bikes in the parking lot, but Silva said they were just watching the traffic and not directing it.

"I was thinking to myself, 'What if an accident happened?'" she said. "There was no possible way the police or an ambulance could get into that congestion."

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