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Elgin council ponders Grand Vic offer to host 4th of July event and fireworks

Festival Park downtown Elgin. Sun-times Medifile

Festival Park in downtown Elgin. Sun-times Media file

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Updated: March 12, 2014 6:12AM

ELGIN — The city council Wednesday night will continue a discussion it had last month about what, if anything, to do about holding a Fourth of July fireworks display, including a possible event that day downtown sponsored by the Grand Victoria Casino.

For each of the past two summers, Elgin contributed $15,000 in cash and $5,000 in public safety staff time to the Fourth of July fireworks night at the inaugural Northwest Fourth Fests on the grounds of the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates. Hanover Township and the village of Hanover Township also have contributed funds to the event, which had Kia as its major corporate sponsor in 2013.

But in December, council members Tish Powell, Terry Gavin, Anna Moeller, John Prigge and Toby Shaw cast the five “no” votes that canceled involvement for 2014.

Noting budget constraints, Elgin last held its own Fourth fireworks at the Sports Complex on the far west side in 2008. The complex butts up to the now-completed Highlands Golf Course, which disallows it as a spot for such a show in Elgin.

There frequently were traffic issues when the complex was home to the event.

After looking at options for where to hold a show in the city, discussions centered on the downtown along the riverfront at Festival Park, which would come with a price tag of almost $68,000, a number that includes city labor as well as pyrotechnics.

Last month, the Grand Victoria Casino proposed hosting a Fourth of July event in Festival Park, which is adjacent to its operation on South Grove Avenue.

Launch site found

According to supporting material for Wednesday’s meeting, city police, fire and special events staffs have met with casino staff and someone from the fireworks company, and “a launch site on the west side of the river was identified as a suitable location to launch up to 4-inch shells. The fire department is continuing to study the details and work with the fireworks company to work out the details,” the material states. “That site is on property owned by the Commuter Rail Division of the RTA, ComEd, and The Chicago and Northwestern Railroad.”

Other options that could be considered would be to launch 2- to 3-inch shells from a barge in the river, or present a close proximity pyrotechnic show, as has been done in the past at Festival Park, the material said.

According to the material, the Grand Victoria would begin the festivities in the afternoon, then hold a concert at 7 p.m. with fireworks beginning at 9:15 p.m. There would be a $5 fee to enter the park. A portion of Grove Avenue adjacent to the park would be closed off to allow for concessions and to allow for more room in the park for patrons and the concert.

“Among several bands under consideration are Loverboy and the Doobie Brothers. The fireworks program would be around 20 minutes in length, and the event would end by 10 p.m.,” the material states.

In turn, the casino has asked Elgin to provide and pick up the tab for fire, police, public works and land management crews needed for the event. Staffing costs are estimated at $31,000. Sources said the casino would spend about $200,000 to put on the event.

“I plan to support the proposal by the GVC,” Powell said. “This partnership allows us to bring fireworks back to Elgin, which is something I believe many residents support, for a very minimal cost.”

Mayor Dave Kaptain said he would support the casino plan, too, given its cost being similar to what Elgin was spending on the Fourth Fest and that it would include a three-year commitment from the Grand Victoria for holding the event, thus giving the city a way to budget for it.

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