Schenectady

It’s summertime, which means fireworks – and headaches – in Schenectady

Officials continue to grapple with illegal use
Fireworks explode over Hulett Street in Hamilton Hill July 4, 2019
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Fireworks explode over Hulett Street in Hamilton Hill July 4, 2019

Categories: News, Schenectady County

SCHENECTADY — Fireworks have become a regular part of the nocturnal landscape in the city.


But explosions are dragging later and later into the evening, and lawmakers are displeased.

City Councilman Ed Kosiur was roused out of bed shortly after 2 a.m. on Monday.  

He cruised Woodlawn looking for suspects but came away empty-handed. 

“I couldn’t find any evidence,” said Kosiur, who speculated violators were setting off commercial-grade fireworks from public areas — not backyards. 

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Residents are rattled, said lawmakers, citing the impact on young children, pets and those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“In Bellevue, it was like a professional fireworks display was going on,” said Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo. “It was insane.”

While presenting an irritating quality-of-life issue, city lawmakers are also concerned about an incendiary device landing on property and setting it on fire. 

Chief Eric Clifford acknowledged fireworks have intensified in the city following the proliferation of the sale of the devices in other states, and can be difficult to stamp out, largely because evidence can be ghostly, with explosions destroying proof of wrongdoing. 

“I wish I had more to report other than the same old problems, which is fireworks are easier to get than they used to be,” said Clifford, who also lamented aggressive advertising used to lure in those with a penchant for pyrotechnics.

Kosiur asked him to step up patrols.

Clifford said he could, and said he’d roll out electronic signs warning violators of the penalties.

Residents can also report incidences to the police. 

But the escalation comes when officers are starting to take summer vacations, and he’s trying to keep overtime costs under control as the city stares down a looming budget deficit caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Small pyrotechnic items like sparklers are legal to purchase in New York state twice each year. 

Schenectady and Columbia counties are the only upstate counties that bar sales, joining New York City and Nassau County.

Under a city ordinance, anyone found to have illegally launched a firework faces fines of up to $250.

City Councilman John Polimeni said the fireworks join other pervasive quality-of-life issues in the city, including loud music and packs of adolescent bicyclists roaming the streets, snarling traffic and hurling invective at passerby. 

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Polimeni wondered if quality-of-life tickets were being prematurely dismissed in court. 

If so, the city should appeal their dismissal, he said.

“Certainly we need some assistance from our judges to treat these appropriately,” Polimeni said.

Schenectady isn’t the only upstate city grappling with an influx of fireworks.

Albany is also discussing how to stamp out the practice, the Times Union reported.

And in Syracuse, city police have established a special detail tasked with responding to fireworks complaints, Syracuse.com reported on Monday.

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