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Fireworks company advertises in county where its product is illegal

Fireworks company advertises in county where its product is illegal

The city passed an up to $250 fine per firework illegally launched on Monday
Fireworks company advertises in county where its product is illegal
A billboard advertises fireworks on Erie Boulevard Thursday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

SCHENECTADY -- A fireworks supercenter in New Hampshire is using a billboard along Erie Boulevard to advertise the sale of fireworks, to the chagrin of city officials.

The TNT Fireworks supercenter is located on Brattleboro Road in New Hampshire. The billboard is just across the street from Mohawk Harbor and Rivers Casino & Resort.

TNT's website lists several chain locations, including tents or kiosks visible around the region, though not in Schenectady -- the county or the city, where the use of fireworks is illegal.

A representative from TNT Fireworks did not return a request for comment on the billboard, which is owned by Lamar Advertising. A representative from Lamar also did not return a request for comment.

The billboard was put up around the same time the Schenectady City Council was crafting and approving a new fine for up to $250 per illegal firework launched in the city. It also allows for the confiscation of any devices used to launch the fireworks.

Schenectady County opted out of the state’s legalization of sparklers and other small fireworks in April.

City Councilman John Polimeni, who had a hand in crafting the city’s new fireworks fine, said there’s not much the city can do about the billboard.

“What we can do (about illegal fireworks), we are trying to do, and do our best,” Polimeni said. “We’ve been pretty aggressive, I think, with what we’re trying to do.”

City Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico noted that, while fireworks of any kind are prohibited in the county, there is nothing stopping a company from advertising them for sale here.

Polimeni said he has urged state officials to try and stop fireworks from being brought over state lines.

“You can go to those states and fire them off there,” Polimeni said. “More often than not, people will bring them back.”

Polimeni called the timing of the billboard's appearance a coincidence.

Independent Councilman Vince Riggi, who has been outspoken against fireworks in the city, said there must be some reason the company is advertising here.

“I’m sure if that company, whoever they are, feels like there is a market in Schenectady, it must be that there is,” Riggi said.

Riggi also said there’s a possibility the company was advertising to people who live outside of the area and were coming to visit the casino. He added that he also doesn’t know what the city could do about the billboard.

“That’s their right, I guess,” Riggi said.

This will be the first Fourth of July the city will have its fireworks fine in place. Riggi said the only way it will be effective, as with any law, will be if it’s enforced.

“I think this is going to be a trial period,” Riggi said.

Police Chief Eric Clifford previously said there will be more of a police presence on the Fourth of July. As of Thursday, there was no record of anyone having been ticketed under the no-fireworks ordinance.

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