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Nederland Wants To Drop Fireworks Because Of Fire Danger, Looks At Sustainable Alternatives

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NEDERLAND FIREWORKS
Nederland's town board is looking for a new, more sustainable and less fire prone way to celebrate the Fourth of July. | Getty Images

Nederland's town board is looking for a new way to celebrate the Fourth of July that doesn't involve expensive -- and flammable -- fireworks, while also looking to improve planning for the small mountain town's big events.

The board is set to talk about town events at its work session Tuesday night. Mayor Joe Gierlach said the conversation was triggered by the town looking for Fourth of July alternatives.

The town board recently decided not to approve a $15,000 contract with a vendor for fireworks, both because of the cost and the possibility of another dry summer with high fire danger.

Last summer, Gov. John Hickenlooper banned the use of private fireworks statewide because of the danger, and most municipalities canceled their professional shows. Nederland postponed its fireworks show until July 28.

"Fireworks in general are not very sustainable," Gierlach said.

The town solicited community ideas and so far is considering a picnic at Barker Reservoir, tours of the new wastewater plant, a parade of LED lights and acoustic music.

"We would celebrate energy independence day," Gierlach said.

He said better planning for all the town's big events also is on the agenda, with board members wanting to mitigate negative impacts. While the town has a permit process for events, he said, there's still a need to look at traffic, infrastructure and how the event could affect the environment.

"Up until now, we've just had people give us proposals and say, 'I want to have an event and here's my idea,'" he said. "There really was no planning."

Tuesday's meeting is expected to include information from town staff members on the impact of events on public safety, traffic, town residents who live nearby, the environment, sales tax revenues and business revenues. Annual Nederland events include Frozen Dead Guy Days, NedFest, a 10K race and an arts show.

Nederland's population is about 1,500, and there are about 6,000 people when the surrounding area is included.

Organizers of NedFest, a bluegrass festival held for the last 14 summers in Nederland, are urging people to attend Tuesday's meeting to show their support for the event.

Kristen McFarland, who's on the NedFest board of directors, said she's worried that there are some town board members who don't support the event and might recommend that it end at 8 p.m. -- effectively ending the event, she said, because organizers wouldn't be able to book national acts and charge enough per ticket to cover the costs.

"There's never been much opposition to NedFest," she said. "I'm kind of worried. We're trying to show how much support NedFest has."

If you go

What: Nederland town board work session

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Nederland Community Center, 750 Colo. 72 North

nederlandco.org ___

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