July 3 bon fire cancelled
By Joseph Domelowicz Jr.
Despite the cancellation of the July 3 bon fire, which has been held in recent years as part of the townâ€™s Independence Day celebration, the townâ€™s public safety departments are still gearing up for a busy week next week.
â€œMy concern,â€ said Fire Chief Joseph â€œLarryâ€ Powers, â€œis that where weâ€™ve had the big bon fire the last couple of years, people this year will feel like they are entitled to have their own smaller bon fires on the beach or in backyards.â€
That is something the Winthrop Fire and Police department intend to keep from happening.
â€œIâ€™m going to keep my staffing levels up where they were last year and weâ€™re going to have a truck down near Yirrell Beach during the evening of July 3, so that we can respond to any problems we have down there,â€ said Powers. â€œI know the police are planning to do the same thing.â€
In addition, Powers said a dedicated and staffed engine truck will be present at Coughlin Park from the time the fireworks arrive until after the fireworks show on July 4.
â€œWe just want to make sure that things donâ€™t go back to the way they used to be during the 70s, when everyone had their own bon fires going, that can get a little out of control and if the winds shift or if the fires get a little hot, with houses on the Point so close together, we donâ€™t want to have any problems,â€ added Powers.
According to Powers, the reason for the cancellation of the bon fire has nothing to do with the town or budget concerns.
â€œMy understanding is that the group of volunteers who have built the fire each year for the past few years didnâ€™t want to do it and no one else stepped forward to take it over,â€ said Powers.
On the police side of the public safety equation, the Winthrop Police are again pulling out all the stops, with extra patrol units both on the evening of July 3 and all day on July 4. In addition to keeping their eyes open for illegal bon fires, Winthrop police will also be strictly enforcing laws regarding the public consumption of alcohol and illegal fireworks.
â€œThe Winthrop Police will be strictly enforcing all laws in the town,â€ said Lieutenant Frank Scarpa, who is in charge of the departmentâ€™s holiday response. â€œParents should be especially vigilant if they see theyâ€™re children leaving the house with back packs and bags and things of that nature.â€
Lt. Scarpa said that all illegal fireworks found by Winthrop police will be confiscated and complaints will be sought in court against those found to be in possession of fireworks.
â€œIn serious cases we will arrest those we find to be in possession of fireworks and we will arrest those who are found to be drinking in public,â€ said Scarpa. â€œThe goal is to provide a safe and enjoyable holiday for everyone in the town. Every year we have someone who sets off illegal fireworks and every year we have injuries caused by those people. Our goal is to keep that from happening.â€
Scarpa also said the police will be strictly enforcing a one-way traffic route on Point Shirley, and have asked that residents who intend to have visitors for the fireworks display ask their visitors to arrive early to find parking and avoid the traffic problems that have occasionally plagued the fireworks display in the past.
â€œThere will be some limited parking available on the public landing, but once the landing is full, it will be closed to traffic,â€ said Scarpa. â€œOn the point, there will be one way traffic starting on Bay View Ave. and traveling in the direction of Grand View to Billows to Triton to Shirley Street to Elliot Street to Tafts Avenue and back to Shirley Street to exit Point Shirley.
â€œWeâ€™re asking anyone who parks along the side of the road on those streets to park in the same direction that traffic is moving, so that there will be fewer traffic tie-ups once the fireworks display is over,â€ said Scarpa.
The police response will include 17 officers on patrol from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on July 3, including a mix of mobile units, bike units and foot patrols as well as three auxiliary police officers.
On July 4 there will be normal daytime staffing, with additional officers at the public landing to ensure safety of the Horribles Parade and supervise parking. Beginning at 4 p.m., the department will deploy 23 uniformed officers for the 4 to 10 shift to help with traffic safety and law enforcement efforts.