By BOB TUROSZ
NORTH READING – Calling it “five days of a nightmare,” a group of Kristyn Lane residents came to the Selectmen last week to ask for their support in dealing with the town of Wilmington, which has plans to host their Fourth of July festivities at the Shriners Auditorium in 2015, for the second year in a row.
And after the “unbearable” noise and traffic that overran their neighborhood when the festivities were last held there in 2014, the North Reading residents are looking for relief in the future.
Kristyn Lane is located off Park Street West and Redmond Avenue, near the Wilmington town line and backs up near the rear of the Shriners Auditorium parking lot, where the fireworks and five day carnival was held for the first time last year, the neighbors said.
When the festivities were held there in 2014, the noise and traffic in the neighborhood was “unbearable,” said Jo-Ann Rossi, of 19 Kristyn Ln. There was a severe safety issue and people from the carnival were “creeping around” their yards, she said.
When it was over, the dismantling of the carnival was also a nightmare, Rossi said. It took place from 11 p.m. until 8 a.m. the next day. “We had five days of hell” during the carnival with a horn blowing every two or three minutes and kids screaming all the time, she said.
Rossi and the other neighbors asked for the support of North Reading Selectmen at a meeting in Wilmington on Dec. 9 to determine if the Shriners site would be used again for the fireworks and carnival.
Rossi and the other residents were impressed and grateful that all four North Reading Selectmen who heard their complaint – Robert Mauceri, Michael Prisco, Joe Foti and Jeff Yull – came to the meeting in Wilmington, along with Fire Chief Bill Warnock, Deputy Chief Barry Galvin, Police Chief Michael Murphy and Lt. Mark Zimmerman and supported their case. Rossi said she found the Wilmington officials “kind of rude” and said they accused the North Reading residents of “hyperbole.”
Mauceri and Rossi said that as a result of a two-hour meeting, two of the North Reading residents, Dave McBride and Rick Schaffer, both of Kristyn Lane, agreed to sit down with the Wilmington police and fire chiefs and try to find a better location. Although in the end, Mauceri cautioned, the Shriners parking lot may prove to be the best location from Wilmington’s point of view.
Wilmington used to have these festivities in the center of town at their high school but they are building a new high school with a new turf field and don’t want to have the fireworks there any more, said Mauceri. And they seem to have determined the Shriners’ location is the best – for them.
“My sense is the decision has been made,” but the Shriners’ general manager maintained the final decision would be made by a committee in January, Mauceri said.
When you look at the site and the radius needed for fireworks, it sort of forces the carnival to the back of the Shriners parking lot, and that is close to the back yards of the residents in North Reading, Mauceri said. The biggest issue and the bottom line for the North Reading residents, is the noise from the carnival that goes on for several days. “There’s the noise of the machines, there’s the noise of the kids screaming and then there’s the noise of the whistle that goes off on a regular basis.”
Mauceri said they made the suggestion that if Wilmington goes forward and sticks with the Shriners site, that the fire and police chiefs from both towns get involved to minimize the problems. Evidently a lot of people came into North Reading to park and then walked through people’s yards to cut through the woods to the Shriners lot. Barricades were put up but the people just moved them, he said. “We may be able to work out something for Wilmington to pay for a police detail to keep people from parking” on the North Reading streets during the event and the fire chief committed to stationing a fire truck there over concerns about the fireworks.
“We’re prepared to provide relief for the neighbors from a security and fire prevention point of view but my guess is they’re (Wilmington) going to have it there no matter what.”
Rossi described a situation in which her house was “rocking” from the fireworks and the noise and there were fireworks debris in her swimming pool the next day. There were people drinking in their cul-de-sac while watching the fireworks and they moved saw horses that had been placed to block traffic. “It was disturbing the peace,” she said.
Other North Reading residents agreed with Rossi’s description of what they endured last July.
Joanne Schaffer, 18 Kristyn Ln., said the Selectmen need to understand, it’s really five days of a carnival. “All day, the noise, the horns, all day, you can’t sleep, you can’t have a party, you can’t have people over. We’d like the fireworks somewhere else but it’s the carnival for five days abutting the yards, you can’t live that way. It’s the carnival noise, it’s number one.”
Nancy Pastore of 21 Kristyn Ln. said the music from the carnival was deafening, even with the windows shut and the air conditioning blaring.
Pastore has small children and said her house was shaking. “This is a residential area, we shouldn’t have to endure that kind of noise, it’s just not appropriate.” She said people were drinking right outside of her house. “They said it was a one-time thing and now they’re back again.”
Town Administrator Michael Gilleberto arranged a conference call with Wilmington officials who committed to working with North Reading to mitigate the concerns of the North Reading citizens. Gilleberto said he inquired about other alternatives but was told the Wilmington committee thinks the Shriners is the most practical.
Rossi said originally Wilmington told the residents the festivities would only be at the Shriners for one year but now it looks like they intend to do it there regularly.
“Basically, they need to find another site,” Rossi said. But she’s not sure that will happen.