DESTIN – Addressing his fellow City Council members and dozens of residents, Mayor Scott Fischer on Tuesday summarized his Jan. 5 meeting with the top brass of HarborWalk Village about their fireworks’ shows.
EDITORIAL: Fireworks show worth keeping
“They warned me that the city of Destin would be in for a fight if it does anything to limit the number of shows,” Fischer said, referring to HarborWalk Hospitality Chief Operating Officer Bruce Craul and HarborWalk Village General Manger John Hall. “I said the city needs to protect the interests of its residents.”
Fischer and other council members in recent weeks have said numerous residents have complained to them about noise, traffic congestion and other issues related to the fireworks displays. The HarborWalk Village shows include 10 patriotic-themed fireworks displays that take place on Thursday nights in the summer.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Fischer said his report to the council was just a discussion item. Later in the meeting, the council agreed to have city staff explore a noise ordinance that, among other things, might be used to crack down on loud music from bands performing at HarborWalk Village, as well as on noise created by some late night pool parties.
Before the noise ordinance discussion began, and before a large contingent of fireworks supporters left the council chambers, Craul introduced medically retired Army Green Beret Bobby Dove to the council.
Dove, who lives in Niceville, is a double amputee who was severely wounded while serving in Afghanistan in 2012. HarborWalk Village honored him last June with one of its “Red, White and Blue Celebration” fireworks shows.
Dove told the council that he has endured more than 40 surgeries, and that watching the fireworks displayed in his honor was like a five-minute escape from his pain.
“Destin must continue to greet visitors with the same shock and awe that greeted me and my family,” Dove said of the pyrotechnics.
Fischer then addressed Dove.
“We do not wish to dishonor your service” by trying to decrease the number of fireworks shows, the mayor said. “We appreciate it and honor it.”
Other fans of the fireworks told the council that the shows bring tourists and their money to the city, and that the visitors’ spending supports scores of local workers.
The council on Tuesday also passed the first reading of two ordinances that would: ban the anchoring of floating structures (such as those that house summertime businesses that sell food and beverages at Crab Island) in most parts of Destin Harbor and other city waterways; and require the owners of businesses that rent pontoon boats, Jet Skis and other “livery vessels” to annually register their business with the city and pay a registration fee. The amount of the fee would be set at a later meeting.