The coronavirus situation has caused Defiance city officials to postpone the annual fireworks display that had been scheduled for July 3.
Mayor Mike McCann made the announcement during city council’s regular meeting Tuesday night.
The display was supposed to have been brought back to Kingsbury Park this year — it had been held at Diehl Park in recent years — but concerns about the coronavirus have put things on hold. The mayor told council Tuesday that Diehl Park had been considered as a venue again to help ensure “social distancing,” but this was scratched and the event postponed.
However, he held out the possibility that the fireworks would be held later this year, perhaps on Labor Day or at the annual ribfest in late September.
McCann apologized for the postponement, but said “we think it will be in the best interests of everyone involved.”
The display is actually organized by the Defiance Development and Visitors Bureau (DDVB) which is partially funded with the city’s hotel/motel tax, charged against those who stay at Defiance’s hotels and motels. Last year, the DDVB used some $8,000 for fireworks and collected another $12,000 through fundraising, for a $20,000 display.
But in an interview Tuesday afternoon, DDVB Director Kirstie Mack said no fundraising has been attempted, given the times.
“It’s hard to fundraise right now,” she explained. “We know that so many people are in less than ideal situations.”
That might be attempted later, however, Mack indicated, when things become more clear about what mass gatherings will be allowed.
Postponing the fireworks, she said, “was a sad decision. We’ve seen a lot of these events have to be canceled and/or postponed to a later time this year, and we know this makes everyone really sad because these are the types of things that bring people together.”
She promised that DDVB events “will come back bigger than ever” while “all protocols will be followed appropriately.”
Moving to legislative matters, council let lie an ordinance establishing a new committee structure.
When McCann first became mayor in 2016, council’s three-member committees were replaced by a single council liaison who was supposed to have interacted with various city department heads. However, the committees were later restored.
But on Tuesday council considered a new proposal — setting up a committee of the whole or special committee when necessary.
The concern prompting a change in the three-member committee structure is that it might put council members at risk of open meetings violations if two or more members are in another meeting or venue together. (This was the subject of a former councilman’s lawsuit some years ago.)
Instead of adopting the legislation as proposed Tuesday by Law Director Sean O’Donnell, council amended the bill on Ward I Councilman Steve Corbitt’s motion. The amendment stipulates that any special council committee or committee of the whole will be disbanded after its purpose is served.
Only At-large Councilman Joe Eureste objected to the motion, stating that council is only “rehashing something that’s already there (in council’s rules).”
The legislation will return to council for a second amended reading in the future.
In other business Tuesday:
• Finance Director John Lehner noted that Energy Harbor, the successor to FirstEnergy Solutions, which has filed for bankruptcy, has been sending letters to customers concerning the city’s ongoing electric aggregation program. City customers are all opted into the program, which provides savings on electricity transmission costs, but those wishing not to participate must again indicate their desire to opt out following the name change, according to Lehner.
• Ward 4 Councilman Chris Engel asked how citizen input, which has been suspended at council meetings due to coronavirus concerns, could be communicated. Citizens can contact council members, call the city building (419-784-2101) or council clerk (phone: 419-783-4353; email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
• McCann informed council that he and Pastor Dave Brobston will be holding a virtual Memorial Day ceremony at 10 a.m. on May 25 at St. Paul Lutheran Church. Law Director Sean O’Donnell will deliver an address. Thereafter, McMann and Brobston will hold a prayer session at Riverside Cemetery.
• At-large Councilman Jill Krutsch asked the mayor when Werlor Waste Control would resume “bulk pickup” in the city. McCann wasn’t sure, but he said the city would “work to abate” nuisances created when bulk pickup items remain at the curb.
• McCann noted that downtown businesses who wish to establish outside eating facilities — now allowed under the state’s present social distancing guidelines — will be granted a license-to-occupy city right-of-way at no charge.
• Council President Dave McMaster told council that livestreaming of council meetings may soon begin on YouTube. The cost will be $100 per month.
• council approved an ordinance authorizing replacement pages to the city’s codified ordinances to reflect changes in state law.
• McCann noted safety concerns about upground swimming pools. He stated that pools wider than 12 feet in diameter and more than 18 inches deep must have a five-foot fence.
• council approved the appointment of Jen Clady to the planning commission, replacing Emma Kirkpatrick who moved to another city.
• council met in executive session to discuss an application for economic development assistance.