NAUGATUCK — Winter weather has arrived in the Valley, but borough officials are already confronting a warm-weather dilemma: Where will next year’s Independence Day festivities be held?
Major renovations to Naugatuck High School, beginning in the spring with a reconfiguration of the athletic fields, will boot the festival and fireworks show from their traditional location on the school’s Rubber Avenue grounds. The fireworks in past years have been shot off from the middle of Veterans Field, Public Works Director James Stewart said.
Debris and ashes from the rockets could damage construction equipment, which will be staged in the nearby parking lot outside the pool, officials said. That lot has been cordoned off every Fourth of July, Recreation Director Kim Eyre said.
Employees of several borough departments took a site walk Thursday on Chemtura company property off Elm Street, where fireworks could be shot off for viewing downtown.
“They would have a beautiful view from Old Firehouse Road and Maple Street,” Eyre said.
Representatives from the chemical manufacturing company and Metro-North Railroad, whose tracks run alongside the area, were on hand. The borough would have to forge an agreement with both companies to relocate its fireworks, Eyre said.
The only other place in the borough with enough open space would be on vacant land off Andrew Mountain Road, which the borough recently purchased, Stewart said. Officials toured that site as well, but said the fireworks would be less visible there and they could not think of a nearby public viewing area.
As part of the high school renovation project’s first phase, synthetic turf will be installed on Veterans Field, which is used for football, baseball, and softball. The track will be widened and relocated to circle Veterans Field, while the baseball and softball fields will move to the lower field, which is now used for soccer.
The renovations could mean the borough relocates its Independence Day celebration permanently. Heat from the mortars could melt spots of the new rubber track, and the new synthetic field could be damaged when workers clean ashes away, Stewart said.
The borough will have to decide on a location before crafting bid requests for fireworks companies, Eyre said. Pyrotecnico, based in New Castle, Penn., has been the only bidder for the past two years, and residents have given their display rave reviews.
“They’re very good,” Eyre said. “We love the quality of the show.”
Gene Raynor, the company’s New England show producer, said the borough might be able to continue setting off fireworks from the high school, depending on how the installation of the synthetic field is done. He said he would research coverings and methods that other towns with synthetic fields use.
“It’s a little bit iffy,” Raynor said.