Special to The Gardner News
The majority of Gardner residents have no issue with the current fireworks ordinance, according to survey results presented at the Aug. 2 city council meeting.
According to Amy Nasta, deputy city administrator, the online survey had more than 3,300 responses and 52 percent had no concerns regarding the current ordinance.
A survey was conducted thru Survey Monkey, an online software program.
Nasta said the survey received the most responses from any city survey with 3,358 responses.
Questions asked on the survey ranged from locations, dates and time, types of fireworks and noise.
Nasta said about 79 percent of Gardner residents want fireworks allowed in the city.
-55 percent of responses wanted the times for shooting off fireworks to be the same.
-59 percent wanted locations to remain the same.
-63 percent wanted to keep the sale dates of June 28-July 4 the same.
-48.6 percent didn’t want fireworks discharged after the 4th.
Nasta said it was split evenly for people who wanted to discharge fireworks on July 5 and those who didn’t.
The highest rating for discharge dates was from July 2 through July 4, she said.
Nasta said 62 percent of responses felt the time cut off each night of 11 p.m. was just right.
Citizens had from July 8 through July 23 to respond to the survey.
“The data reinforces that our fireworks are overwhelmingly popular,” Mark Baldwin, council member, said.
Steve Shute, mayor, said it made sense not to shoot fireworks off on July 5th.
Randy Gregoryck, council member, said he supported the discharge days being limited to July 2 through July 4 and also limiting the days of sale.
“I appreciate the city and citizens who took the time to do the survey,” he said.
Baldwin said the data was sufficient and didn’t show residents wanting the days of firework sales being shortened.
Kacy Deaton, council member, said they could send the information back to CPAC to be further evaluated.
“But most people said they like how it’s going,” she said.
Tory Roberts, council member, said she wanted to know if they could expand fireworks to other days such as New Year’s if the city was going to rework the ordinance.
She said she had heard from a few of her constituents who were interested in the idea.
Deaton said the hours would have to be consistent.
Gregorcyk said they shouldn’t open that box.
Shute said he was concerned there are more intoxicated people on New Year’s who would be handling fireworks.
“It’s one more thing to add to our police department on New Year’s eve,” Todd Winters, council member, said.
James Belcher, police chief, said he only knew of one jurisdiction that allowed fireworks on New Year’s.
Belcher and Shute both said they were against allowing fireworks on New Year’s.
Gregorcyk said he wanted to know about the size of the fireworks allowed to be sold in stands.
Jim Pruetting, city manager, said they are Class C designated.
David Knopick, community development director, said the issue would be enforcement and the time it would take to inspect stands.
They could spot check, he said.
Shute said it was unlikely stand owners would were selling banned fireworks.
“They would lose their license,” he said.
Shute said he didn’t know how fireworks being sold outside the city and online were being governed.
Gregorcyk said he would like to reduce the number of firework stands, too.
Knopick said currently there were eight to 10 firework stands every year.
Ryan Denk, city attorney, said the current ordinance goes into specific detail of the nature of allowed fireworks within city limits.
“The mechanism already exists for enforcement,” he said.
Pruetting said he thought Gregorcyk was interested in limiting certain Class C fireworks such as mortars.
“Mortars are what sell and are expensive,” Baldwin said.
Shute said he thought there was some concern of the size of explosives and the noise and effects they created on pets, people with PTSD, etc.
“You do have a portion of the community with PTSD, disabled, pet owners that are all triggered, and I think they should be considered,” Gregorcyk said.
Deaton said mortars are legal in Kansas.
“It will hurt our tents because people will leave Gardner,” she said.
Baldwin said it sounded like a mess to further limit Class C fireworks and inspect tents and houses.
“You’re asking for a world of trouble differentiating,” he said.
Shute said the stands wouldn’t open.
Deaton said she was happy following the state law already in place.
Four council members said they weren’t interested in changing Class C fireworks.
Nasta said the results of the survey will be posted online later this week.
In other business:
Four bond sales were approved..
The Series 2021A General Obligation Bonds for $4,710,000 and the Series 2021B General Obligation Bonds for $2,185,000.
The 2021 bonds finance wastewater system improvements, refund Series 2011A and Series2012A bonds and refund 2019C temporary notes for the Plaza South Special Benefit District.
Bruce Kimmel, advisor, said they were receiving great results and a net savings of $337,000.
“It’s a aggressively, incredible bond market for Gardner,” he said. “There is too much demand chasing too little supply.”
Kimmel said the city’s bonds sells better than elsewhere.
Baldwin said it was great the city had a AA rating.
Gregoryck said he wanted to know why Commerce was so attracted to that.
Kimmel said he could speculate what Commerce Bank was looking for and a class of investors is typically looking for safety and security but didn’t need a tax exemption.
“They left money on the table,” he said. “I wish I could give more specific insight but that is the beauty of competitive bids.”
Gregorcyk said Waverly Plaza was a solid project and a secondary investor should be interested.
Kimmel said there might be local investors interested.
Council members also approved the 2022-2026 County Assistance Road System Program.
Kellen Headlee, public works director, said 50 percent of the construction was for arterial road projects.
“The primary focus is the 2022 submission,” he said.
The 2022 road construction project is for resurfacing 167th street from Center to Moonlight.
“It is the most pressing,” he said.
Shute said he wanted to know more about the scope of the project because he had received questions and concerns about shoulders for the road.
Headlee said it was strictly a resurfacing project and installing shoulders were not included.
“I am not aware of a full depth replacement,” he said.
Gregorcyk said he had received the same concerns from citizens.
Headlee said if an arterial road were completely replaced and improved they would put in shoulders.
“These are county roads that don’t require the full arterial status at this time,” he said.
Pruetting said shoulders had been considered, but the expense is millions of dollars.
“It is a mill and overlay improvement and not a complete redesign,” he said.
Gregoryck said he wanted to know when they would meet the requirement for shoulders. “167th has heavy traffic,” he said. “What is the threshold to get shoulders.”
Headlee said they were getting a traffic count update later in the year that will inform future planning with the necessity of repairs or upgrades.
Baldwin said he had asked a few years ago about 167th Street.
“Once this is done that will attract more development to the Northside,” he said.
Baldwin said a turn lane would eventually be needed.
“I imagine then we would have to rebuild,” he said.
Gregorcyk said he understood development drives that and he was just trying to get ahead.
The other CARS projects from 2023 to 2026 are:
-Moonlight Road Rehab from I-35 to Buffalo Trail Street
-Center Street Reconstruction from Main Street to 167th Street
-Gardner Road Reconstruction from 199th St to I-35