Firework times set in amended ordinance

City Council on first reading has changed the ordinance on disturbing the peace regarding when commercial fireworks can be used.

The ordinance will allow fireworks to be detonated the weekend before July 4 through following weekend during the hours of 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on New Year’s Eve from 8 p.m. through 12:30 a.m. New Year’s morning, said city Police Chief David J. Young.

Numerous complaints following changes to the state fireworks law created a need for the amendment to the ordinance, he said.

“Inaction was not an option,” he said.

Fireworks users need permission to ignite them on private property and they can’t be detonated closer than 150 feet from a structure.

The regulated days and hours should help reduce noise for residents and anxiety in pets, according to Young.

The setup allows for a possible 10-day maximum celebration during July.

In other business, council approved one full-time and one part-time school resource officer to be stationed in the Williamsport Area School District.

The full-time officer is the subject of a renewal agreement with the school district at the high school. The part-time officer, who will work 20 hours at the elementary and middle schools, is the change added, Young said.

The cost is about $440 dollars day per officer for 180 days and the district reimburses the city, he said.

The more formal plan is designed to improve early interaction and relationships between younger students and police and is meant to involve parents, he said.

It also works with the police “flex shift” because it can cover whenever an officer is on vacation and for special events, without contributing to overtime hours, Young said.

The increased police presence at schools also follows recent trends where safety is paramount for students, staff, parents and city employees.

In other action, council:

• Approved a $4,200 grant to administer Historic Architecture Review Board meetings. It includes a $4,200 cash and $100 in-kind match, according to Stephanie Young, director of city community development. Next year, the in-kind matches may also have to be cash-related, she told council.

• Approved use of $200,000 in Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Funds application through the state for rental properties in the Park Avenue Neighborhood Redevelopment Project area. It encompasses projects west to Campell Street, north to Brandon Avenue, east to Market Street and south to Little League Boulevard, Young said. At least 30 percent of the funds must be used for properties below 50 percent of area median income. The maximum use is $25,000 and a 15-percent match from property owners. In this area, 74 percent are rental-occupied and 77 percent are income-eligible.