BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
After a constructive meeting between representatives of the Historic Downtown Littleton Merchants Association (HDLM), South Metro Fire Rescue, the City of Littleton, Western Welcome Week, and Tri-State Fireworks, Inc. on Feb. 6, organizers are hopeful that Littleton’s Main Street Block Party will return this summer.
Fire Marshall and Bureau Chief Anthony Valdez was one of four representatives of SMFR who came to the meeting with Greg Reinke, president of the Historic Downtown Littleton Merchants Association, his brother Chris Reinke, co- owner of Reinke Brothers costume and Halloween shop, three other members of HDLM, and Cindy Hathaway of Western Welcome Week. Said Valdez, “We want to be a community fire department. SMFR is willing to partner with you where we can on costs of special permit fees but technical expertise is needed to ensure a safe pyrotechnics event.”
Agreement was reached at the meeting that HDLM will present detailed plans of their fireworks display to SMFR staff experts soon, who will determine the exact cost of a permit, allowing HDLM to make a timely decision about the event.
The block party, which had been held on the second Saturday in June for the past 14 years, was abruptly cancelled for 2019 last May when organizers found out that their permit fees for the festivity and fireworks show were going to be much higher than they had been previously.
Greg Reinke, organizer of the event, was shocked to learn that SMFR was going to charge as much as $1,600 for both a special event and pyrotechnics display permit, unlike the $150 that Littleton Fire Rescue had charged in previous years.
Said Reinke, “We aren’t saying that SMFR is being unreasonable, but we are all volunteers and HDLM is a not-for-profit, so it all comes down to the fees. We have to make a final decision by March 31 so we can sign contracts.” According to its published fee schedule, SMFR’s total charge for a plan check and inspection of a fireworks display is $1,079.28. During the meeting, participants discussed that this year’s special event fee (not including the fireworks display) for the Block Party was promised to be no more than $240.
On Jan. 1, 2019 Littleton Fire Rescue (LFR), previously an independent agency of the city, became part of South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR), which covers 540,000 residents over 285 square miles with 29 separate fire stations in 12 cities, unincorporated portions of Arapahoe, Jefferson, and Douglas counties, Centennial Airport, the Denver Tech Center, Inverness, and Meridian Office Park.
Randy Young, Littleton’s deputy city manager, said, “We feel that SMFR is being fair with their fees and the City of Littleton appreciates what they’ve done. We (LFR) weren’t charging what it cost us, which is partly why we couldn’t afford to maintain our own fire department.” The city supports the event by providing police officers and public works employees at no charge, which was reported to have cost over $18,000 in 2018, including fire department personnel who are no longer part of Littleton city government
During the meeting, Greg Reinke said, “In 1999, when we brought our business here, downtown Littleton was dying. Now it’s vibrant. The Block Party is like going to Disneyland. It’s a high-quality event. We draw over 30,000 people and the HDLM pays for it all. The fireworks display is an important part of it.”
Joe Diaz, owner and founder of Tri-State Fireworks, Inc., who puts on the fireworks show for the Littleton Main Street Block Party, said, “We’re the only state and federally- licensed contractor in this area.” Noting that the cost of fireworks has gone up because of the Coronavirus outbreak in China, he said, “The product we use comes from a family-owned business in Italy that makes reliable products.”
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