By Ron Nunnari
ENGLEWOOD — Ongoing concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Englewood council to cancel this year’s July 4th fireworks display.
City Manager Eric Smith noted that Police Chief Mark Brownfield’s opinion, which corresponds to his own opinion, is that a fireworks display wouldn’t be feasible given the current pandemic.
“The fireworks just don’t work due to the congestion that is going to occur,” Smith said. “There are a number of other surrounding communities that have canceled their fireworks and we are concerned that all those folks, or more folks, are going to show up. It is always just a huge crowd that arrives for our fireworks even if every other community is holding theirs.”
Cars fill parking lots, people sit along the streets in lawn chairs and on blankets and sit shoulder to shoulder in Centennial Park to watch the annual display, which goes against the social distancing measures recommended by health officials.
Smith noted that Dayton is not holding fireworks this year, but a few communities have decided to host fireworks displays such as Huber Heights and Lebanon.
“The staff’s recommendation is to cancel the fireworks and it would be beneficial for council to approve that recommendation,” Smith stated.
Council also discussed whether or not to close the water park this year due to the pandemic.
“The water park itself is not an issue because it is not recycled water,” Smith said. “First of all, it’s potable water. You can drink it. It’s the same water that comes out of the faucet. It’s chlorinated, but the problem is the amount of folks that are going to show up and congregate at one location. It was unclear to us as to what is the answer to that. As usual, nobody has a solid answer. The governor has apparently said that outdoor water parks can open.”
Smith noted that the Ohio Department of Health was contacted about this issue and their concern was with the congregation of people.
On the hottest days hundreds of people show up as their kids play under the water fountains with the parents sitting in the park area watching. The other issue would be opening the restroom facilities, which would create another point of congregation.
“I guess that is one decision that is squarely in the lap of council on which is the proper way of handling that,” Smith commented.
The restrooms are normally open to the public during the day but haven’t been this year due to the health pandemic, except for the restroom at the Little League concession stand.
Councilman Steve Henne noted that public health and state government officials are waiting to see if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases by the end of June, which should determine if the city should close the water park.
Council voted to postpone opening the water park until the end of June to see if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases.