Input sought on fate of Donner Lake event | SierraSun.com
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Input sought on fate of Donner Lake event

JOHN A. BAYLESS

Council member Maia Schneider and Town Manager Steve Wright will mediate a public forum today on the Donner Lake fireworks display, which local fire and law enforcement officials canceled because of safety concerns.

The forum begins at 4 p.m. at the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District boardroom on Donner Pass Road.

“Maia will be the facilitator,” Wright said. “Both law enforcement and fire officials will talk about the safety issues causing concerns about the event.”

He said Steve Randall of Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District and Rachelle Pellissier of the Truckee-Donner Chamber of Commerce will then speak about the history of the fireworks display.

“From that point we will receive citizen input and look for constructive suggestions,” Wright said. He said input received will be recorded and reviewed at a later date.

“The discussion will close on ‘Where do we go from here?'” Wright said. He said a subgroup may be formed from the participants at the forum to refine the information received and present it to the agencies involved.

Wright said the town has received numerous letters concerning the fireworks display and the Fourth of July celebration. The correspondence was equally divided between canceling and continuing the events.

Schneider said the forum’s purpose is to solicit suggestions from all interested members of the public about the future of the fireworks.

“This will really be more of a brainstorming session than anything else,” Schneider said. “It is open to anyone who wants to come, and we encourage everyone to attend.”

She said public opinion seems to be divided 60/40 for continuing or canceling the fireworks, and that the reason most cite for canceling the event is public safety.

The forum will be structured much like the one held last year concerning the retention of ramps on the Highway 267 Bypass.

“Everyone that comes will have an opportunity to talk,” Schneider said. “One of things I would like to see come out of this is a committee, made up of business interests, the Truckee-Donner Chamber of Commerce, Donner Lake residents and the recreation and park district.”

She said many people believe a stronger police presence all day during the Fourth of July celebration would solve some of the safety problems. Schneider said other factors to consider in preparing include whether the holiday falls on a weekend, as it did this year.

Officials from Truckee Fire Protection District, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office announced that no permits would be issued for the fireworks display following a meeting July 15.

An NCSO deputy was injured while trying to break up a fight following the event this year, and was airlifted because an ambulance could not make it through the crowds around Donner Lake. Officers also had to deal with several disturbances outside the West End Beach, including rock and bottle-throwing drunks and a confrontation with a mob which was rocking the cars of people attempting to leave on South Shore Drive.

Sierra Sun E-mail: sun@tahoe.com

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