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In preparation for Independence Day celebrations, the Westbrook Board of Selectmen (BOS) met on May 9 via Zoom specifically to discuss fireworks, which for the most part are illegal in Connecticut.
“Last year, the Fourth of July was a perfect storm,” said First Selectman Noel Bishop in advance of the meeting. “The [West Beach] parking lot filled up by around 9:30 a.m.”
Traffic that day backed up on Seaside Avenue all the way to Route 1, according to Bishop, raising concerns about safety. Had there been an emergency situation, an ambulance or fire truck would have had difficulty getting to the scene.
At the June 9 meeting, legal information from Town Attorney Duncan Forsythe was provided about the Connecticut General Statute relating to fireworks.
“Section 29-357(a) makes it illegal to sell, use or explode any fireworks with the exception of sparklers or fountains of not more than 100 grams of pyrotechnic mixture per item which are non-explosive and non-aerial,” with some additional restrictions, Forsythe wrote.
“Subsection (d) of the same statute states that any person who possesses or uses illegal fireworks is guilty of a class C misdemeanor,” he continued. It is appropriate for the town to notify the public that those “who possess or use illegal fireworks will be subject to arrest,” he wrote.
Connecticut state troopers Wayne Buck and Ben Borelli, along with Westbrook constables, will monitor the beach over the July 4 weekend and will enforce Connecticut laws pertaining to fireworks, according to meeting minutes. Enforcement will extend to private property, as well.
There will be signage and communications to the public regarding the town’s enforcement of the law, according to the meeting minutes.
July 4 Parking and Traffic
The West Beach lot parking is already restricted to Westbrook residents, and that restriction will be enforced Friday to Sunday, July 3 to 5. The lot will be closed once full and Mulvey Municipal Center parking, which is usually open to all, will also be limited to residents that weekend.
There will be a visible police presence, with officers stationed at intersections, such as Seaside Avenue at Post and Bellstone Avenues, to monitor traffic and illegal parking along Seaside Avenue.
At the end of the June 9 meeting, the BOS discussed beachgoers leaving items overnight at the beach, including canoes and kayaks, canopies or tents, and volleyball nets. According to the meeting minutes, the “consensus of the BOS was that no personal property will be permitted to be left on the beach overnight. Any items left after 8:30 p.m. will be confiscated by the town.”
A special BOS meeting, however, was held on June 11 to address the issue further. Council of Beaches (COB) President Pat Marcarelli explained that for roughly 10 years, the COB has been responsible for cleaning up West Beach and has worked with Westbrook High School to engage the help of students.
Every Monday morning during the summer season, however, the beach is cleaned by John Riggio, director of the town’s Department of Public Works, and structures such as canopy frames get in the way of his work.
There was some consensus that kayaks, many of which are secured to the seawall, should be exempt from any restrictions.
The BOS determined that Bishop will draft a notice, which will be reviewed by Forsythe, to either recommend or order that unsecured structures not be left overnight on public beaches. The signs listing prohibitions at the beach will be updated to include this, as well as fireworks.
The 2020 guide to the Madison Chamber of Commerce has arrived!