If you didn’t get your fill after six hours of Andover Town Meeting over two nights this week, you may be in luck.
Andover Town Manager Andrew Flanagan said “there have been discussions within the community” to call a Special Town Meeting to revisit an amended article passed Tuesday to pay for the annual Jerry Silverman Fourth of July Fireworks.
“No one has pulled papers to call for a special town meeting,” Flanagan said in a text message Thursday. “I understand there have been discussions within the community, however, no formal action has been taken.”
Flanagan did not immediately respond when asked if the Town could circumvent the article if it found a different source of funding.
Article 23, which asked Town Meeting to approve $14,000 for the Jerry Silverman Fireworks, is typically a routine piece of business on the annual warrant that passes with little or no debate. But on Tuesday, Shawsheen Road resident Cindy Nasiatka successfully amended the article to make sure the Town hired a company that uses biodegradable fireworks.
Nasiatka said debris falling from Atlas Pyrovision Entertainment Group’s display in the neighborhood surrounding West Middle and Andover High Schools is nothing new.
“But last year, instead of the cardboard, what rained down were pieces and shards of plastic,” she said as she held up some of the debris she collected. “In 2019 this town moved to disallow plastic bags and plastic straws, so everyone understands we really don’t want plastic pieces littering our environment.”
Flanagan said Jaffery, NH-based Atlas Pyrovision can’t provide more environmentally friendly pyrotechnics without impacting the show.
“We have a vendor for the typical show,” Flanagan said. “It’s my understanding the vendor can’t do a show that is similar in size and scale of the usual show with 100% biodegradable shells.”
Officials Weren’t Prepared For Amendment
Nasiatka caught Town officials off guard. Asked to speak on the amendment, Flanagan deferred to Andover Fire Rescue Chief Michael Mansfield. Mansfield said “in the brief time” he had to research the issue he found “at this time, there is no fully-biodegradable firework” and listed the components in a typical firework. He said the plastic pieces were a safety component of the timing devices.
“These pieces that have been found, although they are insignificant to the construction of the shell itself, it is important for this plastic piece to be a part of the timing device,” Mansfield said. “This is an integral part of the shell, for safety, and there is no vendor at this time we can find that has a fully-biodegradable shell.”
The amendment passed in a 152-103 standing vote. The amended article passed on a show of hands.
The fireworks are named for Jerry Silverman, who raised thousands of dollars for the annual display before the Town took over funding. He was also involved in the Fourth of July pancake breakfast and the Horribles Parade. Silverman, who died in 2009, would carry a giant jug at Town events and place “Jerry’s cans” in Downtown businesses to collect money for the events.
“I appreciate the amendment — I’m a real environmental guy,” Silverman’s son, Michael, said after the vote. The Horribles Parade and the pancake breakfast will go on. Maybe the fireworks will not. But as Jerry would say, let’s work together and find those fireworks displays for next year to make them part of that event.
“The big thing for my dad, Jerry, was that the community got together for the Fourth of July. The fireworks were a big part of that.”
Photo: Dave Copeland/Andover News