City Council Discusses Banning Use of Fireworks

DES MOINES, Iowa -- There were some minor fireworks between council members during Monday Afternoon's discussion on whether to ban the use of fireworks.

'"If you look at what`s happened in Missouri, Missouri excludes the use of fireworks in St. louis and Kansas City and I think Iowa should be no different," said Ward III Council Member - Christine Hensley

That comment prompted a response from  Ward IV Council Member - Joe Gatto - who asked Council Member Hensley: "Have you been to Kansas City during The Fourth of July?"

Council Member Hensley replied, "No,  I haven`t..."

Council Member Gatoo went on to say, "...Yes, they are illegal. I`ve been down there on the 3rd and the 4th, and it is worse than what we seen for that six hours. Everyone is shooting off fireworks. Everyone. And, there`s police officers driving by and watching them shoot off and it`s illegal."

Some council members made contrarian points here and there, but by and large there seemed to be a consensus among the council that the city should change its ordinance to not allow people to use fireworks anymore.

Ward II - Council Member Linda Westergaard said that a city of 200,000 taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for the actions of a few.

Westergaard asked: "Do we really want to have to spend our Parks Department budget money to clean up fireworks for one entire day?"

Minds have clearly changed on this issue after seeing what happened over the Fourth of July holiday.

"I was out on the street," said At Large Council Member - Christopher Coleman. "I drove up and down Beaver and Urbandale and other streets that night and I've told everybody I made the decision that night that I was going to vote to make it illegal just to give us a little bit more leverage."

The council has heard lots of feedback from the public about this topic.

"The thing that probably sticks out most to me (is) the amount of emails that we were getting on that," said Ward I Council Member - Bill Gray. "You know, I would say probably anywhere from 35, 40, maybe even 50 emails against, and I found one for."

Still there's a recognition that not allowing fireworks may be just a feel good measure.

"The public needs to understand that when this comes in front of the council, if we ban fireworks, it`s not going to make one iota of difference," said At Large Council Member - Skip Moore. "The state making it mandatory that they can sell fireworks and then think they`re not gonna use them would be like saying, well you have to sell them alcohol, but you don`t have to let them drink it."