CITY NOTES

Fireworks spark consternation, but recourse limited

By DANIEL A. KITTREDGE
Posted 6/24/20

By DANIEL KITTREDGE Fireworks have been lighting up the night sky across the city and communities throughout Rhode Island of late, but many residents and officials aren't celebrating. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Several residents on Monday urged

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CITY NOTES

Fireworks spark consternation, but recourse limited

Posted

Fireworks have been lighting up the night sky across the city and communities throughout Rhode Island of late, but many residents and officials aren’t celebrating.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Several residents on Monday urged the City Council to take stronger action to combat nightly fireworks being set off in neighbors across Cranston, although it is unclear whether any legislative avenue exists to address the issue.

“We are not alone. Every city and town is going through this … We are trying to do our best,” Daniel Parrillo, Mayor Allan Fung’s director of administration, told council members during the body’s regular monthly meeting, held via Zoom.

Parrillo said Cranston Police report this year, the department is receiving seven times as many fireworks complaints as it would during a typical year.

Many of the fireworks involved are already illegal under state law – which prohibits all but ground-based and hand-held “sparkling” devices – and are brought to the state from New Hampshire, Parrillo said. He noted that police face significant challenges in terms of enforcement, since it can be difficult to pinpoint the location of illegal fireworks activity or respond quickly enough to observe it.

“We are getting plenty of calls … It’s just very difficult to address all of these concerns at once,” he said.

Residents and council members raised a number of issues, including the effect of larger, aerial fireworks on pets, children and those with post-traumatic stress or anxiety.

I’m here to ask the council to do something about this nuisance so that working residents who have to be up early for work can get some quiet time, and so that dog owners like myself don’t have to have their dogs freaking out … and so that residents and veterans with PTSD don’t have to go into a stressed state of being,” Ward 3 resident Christopher Ramos said.

“This is every night, and it’s really getting to be a bit much,” said Jennifer Manzi, also of Ward 3. She added: “There really needs to be something put in place to curtail this, because it’s really affecting the mental health of some of our citizens.”

“I’m concerned about fires … Fourth of July is one thing, but this is, like, insane,” Knollwood Avenue resident Nancy Vitulli said.

Ward 3 Councilman John Donegan concurred, saying: “Living in the Stadium neighborhood, it’s a nightly bombardment.”

He added, however, that he is uncertain whether a legislative solution is available.

“From a council standpoint, I’m always thinking about what we can do,” he said. “And I’m going to be honest, this is one where I think there’s some gray.”

Citywide Councilman Steve Stycos said fireworks are part of the broader issue of noise complaints, which has become a much greater concern for residents in recent years.

“It used to be that speeding was the No. 1 complaint that I would get. And noise, not necessarily fireworks, but all kinds of noise … now is the No. 1 complaint that I get,” he said. New police contract introduced; meeting disrupted

A new three-year agreement between the city and the union representing its police officers was scheduled to go before members of the City Council on the night of June 25.

The agreement, which would be effective from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2023, was introduced as new business during a special meeting of the council last week and immediately referred to the Finance Committee for review.

The introductory meeting, held over Zoom, was briefly marred when several unknown participants began shouting racial slurs, showing graphic images over the meeting’s video component, shouting and playing loud music, and filling the meeting’s comment section with blocks of text.

Police were asked to look into the incident and monitor the subsequent special meeting of the council’s Ordinance Committee, which proceeded without incident.

Bag ban likely to be delayed

The city’s ban on single-use plastic bags for retail checkout purposes appears set to be put on hold.

On a 5-2 vote, the City Council’s Ordinance Committee last week approved an amended version of Citywide Councilman Ken Hopkins’ proposal to delay the implementation of the ban – which is currently set to take effect July 1 – for one year.

Ward 3 Councilman John Donegan successfully motioned to add language to the measure requiring city officials to notify affected businesses no later than 90 days ahead of the ban’s new effective date.

The proposal was set to be heard during a special meeting of the full council on July 25. With approval, it would head to the desk of Mayor Allan Fung, who has indicated he will sign it into law.

The bag ban, known more formally as the “Plastic Bag Reduction” ordinance, become law on Earth Day in 2019 through a unanimous council override of Fung’s veto.

It specifically prohibits what are defined as “plastic carryout bags” at the point of a sales transaction. Fines of $250 are allowed for second and subsequent violations. Reusable bags and recyclable paper bags are permitted under the rules.

The measure also includes exemptions for “double-opening” bags such as those used to protect dry cleaned items and “plastic barrier” bags such as those used to transport items ranging from produce to newspapers.

Barone retires as senior services director

Jeff Barone retired as executive director of the city’s Department of Senior Services earlier this month, and David Quiroa, assistant director, is now serving as interim director.

“It has been an honor and a pleasure working with such a wonderful staff,” Barone wrote on Twitter, sharing pictures of a reception held in his honor with Mayor Allan Fung at the Cranston Enrichment Center on Cranston Street.

In an email last week, Fung said the administration has yet to determine whether it will nominate a permanent successor to Barone, given that there are only six months left in the mayor’s term.

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