Copake’s nearly a no-boom town now

COPAKE—Fireworks are messy and will no longer be set off in Copake Memorial Park.

At its October 12 meeting, the Town Board approved Local Law #4, which prohibits fireworks in the park from now on.

The impetus for the new law was the celebration of the park’s 35th anniversary August 5 and its aftermath.

The park was hopping with fun stuff that sunny day, like a bounce house, a water slide, horseback rides, face-painting, a clown/magician show, hot dogs and hamburgers and live music. Other activities like a scavenger hunt, radio broadcast, car show, a trash and treasure sale, car wash, art show and special offers at local businesses took place around town.

But the icing on the 35th anniversary cake was a fantastic display of fireworks in the park at dark.

The non-stop pyrotechnics lasted about 20 minutes and each round of shooting stars and twisting, swirling, arcing trails of shimmering color was more eye-popping than the one before.

Some said it was the best fireworks show they had ever seen… anywhere.

But in its wake, the booming spectacle left “a total mess” of “cardboard and sulfur snowballs” on her house and property, Shirley Knox told the Town Board at its August 12 meeting.

Mrs. Knox, who lives in a house abutting the park, made a plea to the board “to never allow fireworks ever again” at the park. Mrs. Knox said her tenant could not sit on her deck to watch the light show without being pelted by fireworks fallout and even became concerned for her family’s safety.

Diana Jamieson, who also lives adjacent to the park and is Mrs. Knox’s daughter, said her mother’s property was not the only one affected and that debris had showered down up to 500 feet away from where the fireworks were launched.

Town Supervisor Jeff Nayer, Town Highway Superintendent Bill Gregory and another Highway Department employee spent a total of nearly 40 hours picking up debris at the Knox place and throughout the park.

The supervisor said a 250- by 150-foot safety zone around the detonation site had been mapped out, but still wasn’t large enough to protect private property from the fallout, which he described as “shredded cardboard” or “confetti.”

Mr. Nayer and other board members agreed with Mrs. Knox and asked Town Attorney Ken Dow to draw up a local law banning fireworks from the park.

During the public comment period at the October 12 meeting, Copake resident Tommy Dalton told the board it is a “shame to stop everything for one person. A lot of people really enjoyed it.” He asked the board to “hold off” enacting the law.

Trudy Dalton said she understood that it was terrible to have debris fall in one’s yard, but suggested something could be done about it. She said she would volunteer to help clean up yards. She said people came from as far as Westchester County to see the show and called it “a blessing” that the community could come together to see something great like fireworks.

Councilperson Terry Sullivan said the new law does not prohibit fireworks from the whole town, just the park. She said perhaps the town could find a more appropriate place to have them if the occasion arose.

Supervisor Nayer said the town had not decided to ban fireworks in the park because of one person. He said it didn’t matter if 1, 20 or 100 people had brought it up. The board decided it was “a valid cause for concern, it’s not area where it’s safe” for fireworks.

The new law says the Town Board “finds that due to the proximity of private residential property to Copake Memorial Park and the debris and residue produced by the use of fireworks, the use of fireworks in Copake Memorial Park may result in adverse impacts upon nearby private properties and upon the lands and grounds of the park itself, requiring potentially costly cleanup, and finds that Copake Memorial Park is therefore an unsuitable venue for the use of fireworks.”

All board members voted in favor.

Also at the meeting, the board agreed to spend up to $500 for several signs pointing to the hamlet “Business District.” The signs are needed to guide travelers coming into the hamlet from the north entrance off Route 22, south on Farm Road and east on Mountain View Road.

The next Town Board meeting is Thursday, November 9, starting with a public hearing on the 2018 Town Budget at 6:45 p.m. The regular meeting opens at 7 p.m.

To contact Diane Valden email

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