By Roz Rogoff
Fireworks vote ends Friday, October 5thUploaded: Oct 4, 2012
The City website has been taking votes and comments on what to do for the 4th of July celebration next year. The most votes so far are to bring back the original show in Central Park. This has 204 comments out of 290.
The other options offered are holding an event in Central Park but setting off aerial fireworks later that night from another location, holding an event in Central Park with no fireworks, or not holding a City-sponsored event for the 4th of July.
I'm a little confused with the way this survey is being conducted. It's through a service called Peak Democracy. When I clicked the link at the bottom of the page it went to a site called "Open Town Hall." The page on the San Ramon website is called Open San Ramon.
The four options selected at the September 13th meeting in Dougherty Valley are represented in the survey, but I'm not sure those voting or posting comments understand the differences between them. As I said above, most of the comments support bringing the fireworks back to Central Park, but when I read them they really just want the fireworks back, not necessarily in Central Park. That's the Off-Site option, which is to set them off from another location but visible from most of the city. So far this option received only 33 comments.
The price tag on these two options is also misleading. It shows $318,000 for either one, but most of that cost was for traffic management and crowd control for holding the fireworks in Central park after the daytime event. If the two events were separated, the cost should go down considerably.
The daytime event would attract a smaller crowd, like this year, and the night time event would be viewed from outside the location it is held. So I don't see it costing anywhere near $318,000. The fireworks show itself costs around $30,000.
The other two options are an event without fireworks or no event at all. No event received only 11 comments, and no fireworks received 42. But it isn't clear if the number of comments is the deciding factor or the number of supporters.
When you read a comments you can click a Support button, but most of the comments have only one or two supporters. Many of these in each category say the same things, but even across categories they say some of the same things.
Anyone can vote or support any comment, but you need to register to post a comment. That may be discouraging commenters. There are 19 comments "Pending" registration, so some comments are not included in these tallies.
There are 290 comments with 204 for bringing the fireworks back to the Central Park event, 42 for no fireworks, 33 for separating the event in Central Park from an aerial fireworks show later at night, and 11 for nothing at all.
If you click on All Statements and sort by the Support radio button at the top of the list you can see the topics mixed together. The highest number of supporters is 6 on Michael Bellis' comment to bring the fireworks back to Central Park.
Becky Seitz's comment with 5 supporters follows Bellis' in the bring them back to Central Park option, but she starts out saying, "every year we host a 4th of July party at our home because of the fireworks display." So like so many of us who live in San Ramon there's no reason to keep the fireworks in Central Park, but just to keep the aerial fireworks where they can be seen from most parts of the City.
I supported the Off-Site fireworks option, which appears to be misinterpreted by most of those voting. The poster with the most support (4) for setting them off somewhere other than Central Park said, "As long as the off-site location allows us to see the fireworks from an equally convenient location near (Iron Horse Trail behind Cal High) then I would be pleased. Otherwise, I would prefer that it stays at Central Park." At least this person, who didn't use his or her name, understood what the off-site option is about.
I used to watch the fireworks from the Iron Horse Trail behind Cal High too. A crowd would gather at that spot with picnic chairs, radios, bridge tables, even snacks or dinner.
If another suitable location could be found to set off the fireworks that wouldn't create a crowd or traffic jam at Central Park, this would solve most of the problems we had in 2011.
Another Off Site supporter who didn't include his or her name wanted the fireworks viewable from Dougherty Valley. "A firework display that could be viewed from parts of Dougherty Valley and the homes west of 680 seem like an improvement. Perhaps a location near Clubsport could broaden the area from which to view the fireworks."
I like that idea and clicked the Support button, but this comment received only two supporters including me.
The 4th of July Committee considered two different locations for the fireworks, one in the older part of San Ramon and one in Dougherty Valley. The High Schools were mentioned, but several people who live near the High Schools (I live near Cal High and I wouldn't mind) said they didn't want them there. So it isn't just where to set them off but where not to.
An Event in Central Park with No Fireworks received more support than I expected. Forty-two comments preferred this option, and the top one received 4 support clicks. That's only two less than Bellis' for bringing them back to Central Park.
While I was writing this, the No City Sponsored event jumped from 10 to 11, and the top comment received 4 supporters. Those who chose this option want the money spent on improving roads and other city needs and not on the fireworks display. "I grew up in this city and the fireworks. However, I have never seen the maintenance, especially our roads (potholes and cracks), in such poor condition as they are today. I'd rather our tax dollars be spent on improving our city, whether the roads, schools, helping our Seniors, etc...."
Perhaps a private group could put on a fireworks show the way the group in Livermore did. This was not sponsored by the City of Livermore, but the group that put on the show at Las Positas College raised enough money to pay for next year's show.
If we tried that here, the big question would be where to hold it. Las Positas is an enclosed area where admission could be charged and attendance was limited. I don't know of a similar location in San Ramon.
If you want to join in this discussion or add your support for one or more of the comments, you have until 5 pm on October 5th.