Two Seattle Police officers told an Eastlake audience Monday evening the department is adding extra personnel and resources to deal with what is expected to be the largest Lake Union July 4 crowd ever.
When Ivar’s announced in April that it was canceling its Elliot Bay fireworks display, the Chase Family 4th on Lake Union became the only fireworks event in Seattle. Neighborhoods around the lake are preparing for a holiday crush of fireworks fans.
“Some are saying we could see an increase of 30 percent,” Lt. Deanna Nollette, second watch commander and events commander at the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct told the meeting at TOPS-Seward School. “I feel it could be quite a bit higher.”
Accompanying Nollette was officer Mark Wong who has worked 14 of the last 16 July 4ths in Eastlake. He provided details on how the police intend to deal with traffic and crowds in Eastlake.
One key question: If you have guests coming for the fireworks (which usually begin just after 10), when should they be here?
“I’d get down here before 6-7 p.m.,” Wong said. After that, restrictions on access to neighborhood streets will make it difficult if not impossible to get in and find a place to park. They won’t be requiring people to have written invitations from a resident to enter the neighborhood, he said.
Some highlights from the two officers’ presentation:
Wong said police simply don’t have enough personnel to close streets on both sides of Eastlake all evening. “And it would cause gridlock” if they did, he added.
Call 9-1-1 if you see people parking illegally, Nollette and Wong said. Describe what the problem is (blocking a fire hydrant, parking in an alley or a driveway), give a good description of the vehicle and a location.
What about illegal fireworks? Nollette said the police will be doing an education program in conjunction with the fire department, reminding people that fireworks are illegal in the city.
“We don’t typically respond to reports of fireworks,” she said, “because we just don’t have the bodies.” But, if people are shooting off fireworks in ways that might cause a fire, she added, you should call 9-1-1.
While Nollette said she can’t guarantee there won’t be problems, “I feel confident in this plan.”
If you have questions or concerns, you can e-mail Nollette at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to Tim Ahlers for sharing his notes on the meeting.