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New Year, New Venue For Rockville’s July Fourth Fireworks Show?

City staff is recommending moving the 2014 Rockville Independence Day Celebration show from Montgomery College.

Do you think Rockville should change locations for its Fourth of July fireworks show? FILE | Patch
Do you think Rockville should change locations for its Fourth of July fireworks show? FILE | Patch

After eight years of hosting Rockville’s Independence Day Celebration at Montgomery College, city officials think they might get more bang for their buck at another venue this year.

City staff is recommending moving the 2014 July Fourth fireworks show from Montgomery College’s Rockville campus to RedGate Golf Course.

City staff said construction constraints have created challenges for Rockville’s show.

Last year’s fireworks didn’t fly as high as they did in prior shows because their shell sizes had to be reduced, according to a staff report.

Since new tennis courts were being built on campus, the fireworks launch site had to be moved from a practice field to an upper stadium—which was also close to fuel tanks, according to city records.

City staff said in its report:

Due to construction on the College campus and other factors, staff has concerns about the location's viability as a fireworks site in the future. The College has significantconstruction projects planned for the next several years, including resurfacing the track and/or rebuilding the stadium. These projects are in the planning stage but, upon their commencement, will severely limit or eliminate the stadium as a launch site. The stadium is the only fireworks launch site left on the College property.


Civic Center Park, Mattie Stepanek Park and at Richard Montgomery High School were also considered as possible sites for the city’s fireworks show. 

But according to a city analysis, RedGate could accommodate the biggest shells, at 8 inches.

Comparatively, Montgomery College can only accommodate 2.5-inch shells.

Shell size is the difference between firing firewrorks can soar 250 feet or 800 feet, according to the city’s analysis.

The city did a test launch at RedGate on Dec. 3, and the fireworks could be seen a half-mile away.

As for logistics, the city proposes closing RedGate for the show. The community would gather at several sites around RedGate to watch the fireworks.

A potential problem with this plan is that it would eliminate the concerts, remarks form city officials and the music that gets played during the fireworks show, according to the staff report.

The event costs the city $65,500 to produce. Moving the show to RedGate could cost an estimated $88,000, city records show.

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>>> Speak out: Do you think the Rockville Independence Day Celebration should be moved? If it moves, will you miss the concerts that come with the show? 
CrunchyMama January 06, 2014 at 06:59 AM
If Rockville wants to keep the concerts and speeches, Richard Montgomery would be the obvious choice for a fireworks location.
Tom Moore January 06, 2014 at 09:02 AM
City staff has looked at that carefully. Sadly, there's not enough space to shoot off fireworks at RM anymore. You need a surprisingly large safety zone -- people are *so* picky about having their houses burned down. The golf course is one of the few sites left in the City that has the kind of space we need to launch the really impressive shells.
CrunchyMama January 06, 2014 at 10:27 AM
Where did the space go? Has there been that much new construction since the last time fireworks were done there? Or is it because the school and stadium positions are different now? (The last time I remember RM being used for fireworks, the new school was still being used.) Is the construction done (or slated to be done) at MC by this year's festivities? They could be moved back to their original site on campus, if so, so the fuel tanks wouldn't be a concern. I guess similar concerns would exist at the Civic Center, then? That would be an ideal place to include the pre-fireworks festivities. I've not been to either Redgate or the Randolph Academy (across Avery Road); could the pre-show stuff be held at Randolph, with Redgate right across the street for viewing? You know there will be TONS of stopped traffic along both sides of Norbeck Road to watch the fireworks (which would also happen at the Civic Center, but the CC has the advantage of being in a neighborhood where more people could walk or watch from their homes).
Robert Ekman January 06, 2014 at 10:28 AM
I think using the city golf course for other activities is great. But I wonder why it cost more since this would be a City facility and you don't have all the stage and music setup? If you want to keep the remarks and music, do it live for a small group and push it out over the Internet to the world. You could also have speaker systems set up at the gathering sites.
Dan Cohen January 06, 2014 at 03:30 PM
@Robert Ekman January 06, 2014 at 10:28 AM Yes, using the city golf course for (possibly this) and other activities is a great idea. As far as your question, “…I wonder why it cost more since this would be a City facility?” the answer is, in prior City Council’s infinite wisdom (specifically FORMER councilmembers Pierzchala, Gajewski and Britton, who pushed the deal), RedGate was leased to Billy Casper Golf with NO thought about temporary leaseback arrangements by the City. This is why holding any City event at RedGate costs moore… The City has to pay to have Billy Casper Golf lease the golf course back to the City on an hourly or daily basis. It would not have been a big deal for the 2011 City Council to include a limited number of free or reduced-cost leaseback days per year into the language of the lease agreement at that time. Now it is too late and guess who pays for the City Council’s lack of foresight? You do… we (the taxpayers do). Lastly, the situation the City finds itself in, with no large City owned/City controlled venues for events such as this speaks volumes about the loss of Rockville “open space.” They’re not making any new land in Rockville (oh wait, sometimes they do, but councilmember Moore voted against acquiring the 5 acre Karma site from Montgomery County). I can’t wait to see what the City Council does with the APFO and Rockville Pike moving forward. Welcome to “urbanized” Rockville!
Tom Moore January 07, 2014 at 07:43 AM
If you're interested in the issue, the Mayor and Council had a terrific discussion of it last night at our meeting. All meeting videos are here: http://md-rockville.civicplus.com/AgendaCenter/Mayor-and-Council-5 Last night (Jan. 6's) meeting video will be posted shortly. A lot of the questions raised here -- and many more! -- were answered last night.
Brigitta Mullican January 07, 2014 at 11:19 AM
I watched the test fireworks at Redgate from Avery Road and was not impressed, but then again it was a small test. I also listened to the Council discussion last night and wasn't convinced that the Council had enough information to go forward with any decision. Cost, location and safety are big issues. The City of Rockville does not own a large parcel of land to hold big events.; wish it did. Watching to see what is decided.
CrunchyMama January 07, 2014 at 12:30 PM
I've been here long enough to remember fireworks being shot in downtown before the construction. Talk about a centralized location! Obviously not an option now, but at the same time, plenty of people could see them. Just how high do we really NEED to shoot fireworks? Last year there was a lovely crowd gathered on the east side of the train tracks to watch the fireworks: tailgating, great view; so we move the fireworks someplace further out to shoot them higher but it's further from where anyone lives, so more people will have to shlepp there to see them in the first place, whereas both MC and RM have neighborhoods close enough that more people could walk, so no need to shoot them so high. Any chance of entering into a deal with the country club? That's a lot more centralized than Redgate. I'll try to catch the video later if I get a chance.
Tom Moore January 07, 2014 at 01:32 PM
@CrunchyMama: Hey, thank you for that. I meant to ask about that last night, and will do so now.
CrunchyMama January 07, 2014 at 02:25 PM
*salutes smartly* Any time!

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