Evart Fourth of July fireworks still in question
Other dates mentioned, no decisions made
EVART - No decision was made on the future of the Evart fireworks show this summer during this week's city council meeting.
City manager Sarah Dvoracek told the council Monday she received a letter from the Evart Chamber of Commerce stating it was their wish that the fireworks be continued.
Mayor John Joyce questioned the wisdom of keeping the fireworks now when everything else is shutting down.
"I can see maybe moving it to a later time, maybe around Labor Day," Joyce said. "But again, the question is where would we have it. I don't know about the airport area."
"If the chamber wants to do that, if they think they can get the volunteers and they can use that property, that's fine," he added. "I think with a group of that size on the Fourth of July, that's going to be sort of difficult."
Councilman Mark Hildebrand said since the chamber has decided they are going to be supportive of the project, handling the organization and speaking with the vendors. The council should ask for a proposal from them as to what they will do and what the latest date would be that the council could make a decision, he said.
"Right now, everybody is making early decisions about cancelling things," Hildebrand said. "I think if we make the call too early, the answer will likely be 'no,' but I think we have more chance of that answer being 'yes' if we push the decision down the road a bit."
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Evart Chamber of Commerce President Eric Schmidt said he hoped all the council members would consider continuing the fireworks at the airport this year, as it would help ease the economic impact the coronavirus has had on the community.
"The chamber board is willing to tackle the fireworks situation and feel it should be a go," Schmidt said. "Evart has pulled this off for 40-plus years, and I would hope that in a few more months, the virus would no longer be an issue."
"As chamber president, I will outline our goals and have that to the council in tow to three days," he continued. "Our volunteer groups know their positions, and take pride in their actions, and new volunteers can be found."
Scmidt said if the fireworks are cancelled, then he assumes the parade and party in the park would also be cancelled.
"Speaking for business owners, they are already nervous about their businesses declining with the cancellation of other events at the fairgrounds," he said. "I trust you will do diligent research in this matter before making a decision."
County Commissioner Roger Elkins said he would encourage the council to work with other community partners on the fireworks before determining whether it is a go or no go.
"Let's get together with the camber, make sure everybody is on the same page and that everybody understands what's being asked of for the city and what's the responsibility of the chamber, and hopefully at the next council meeting we will have some more information," Joyce said.
The council decided to put it on the agenda for the next meeting.
In other business, the city council is looking at the possibility of rezoning properties in the industrial park as commercial properties and placing them up for sale.
"If we are going to go down the road of marketing this property, we need to know the value," Dvoracek said. "The appraisals are expensive, so what I need from council is whether you want to know the value of those seven parcels."
"That would be helpful to know, but I would also want to know how much the appraisals are going to cost before we jump into it," Hildebrand said.
Dvoracek said she would have that information for the board at the next meeting.
In addition, the city has been approached by Evart Industrial Properties about annexing a portion of land located behind the Evart marijuana grow facility in the industrial park, Dvoracek said.
"The property is located in Evart Township, behind the current grow facility," Dvoracek said. "Evart Industrial Properties wants the city to annex the property. The grow facility wants to expand and in order to do that, they will need the property located behind the facility."
Dvoracek said she is looking for direction from the council on how to proceed.
Joyce said the economic development committee is looking at the different options that might be available, what the pros and cons of each are.
"We would like to put the options before the council and the constituents, and ask how they want us to proceed," Joyce said.
Hildebrand said he was not agreeable to annex the property and felt like the council should consult with Evart Township officials regarding the property.
Evart Township supervisor Doug Derscheid told the council during public comment that he was concerned about the proposal of annexation of Evart Township property by the city of Evart.
"The Evart Township board of trustees voted unanimously to opt out of the marijuana industry, and this arrangement seems to be an end around to what we believe is the desire of our constituents," Derscheid said. "We will be looking into our options going forward."
Joyce suggested the council talk with the concerned parties, and with the lawyers before moving forward with the project.
"One of our options would always be to just say no," he said.