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GARA Nixes New Year’s Fireworks, Struggles with Vandalism

Expressing reservations about safety, likely turnout, and the difficulty of safely parking cars during the winter months, the Gettysburg Area Recreational Authority (GARA) board of directors declined to host New Year’s Eve Fireworks this year.

Board member Jake Schindel, said ACNB had offered to pay for the fireworks with help from the Gettysburg Area Retail Merchants’ Association (GARMA) if a site could be located. Schindel said the Adams County Arts Council had hosted the fireworks in prior years but would not do so in 2020.

“People can’t hang out at a bar downtown until the fireworks,” said Schindel.

“The numbers are real awful.  The state may be in a lockdown by then,” said board member Steve Niebler.

“It’s not ideal for parking cars in January,” said Board President Steve Toddes.

The board also addressed recurrent vandalism issues in the rec park. GARA Executive Director Erin Peddigree said a fire had been lighted in the skate park and that the rec park staff had locked the fence around the park afterwards.

Peddigree said she had recently unlocked the fence because kids were climbing onto picnic tables and over the fence to get into the park.

Board member Jimmy Phelps said he had tried to talk to kids who were smoking in the park and that they had been disrespectful.

“There’s a handful of them that cause problems,” said Peddigree.

“It’s a never-ending battle,” said Niebler.

Any vandalism in the rec park is vandalism on borough property, said Schindel. “It should be taken seriously.”

The board considered a number of approaches for reducing the vandalism including installing security cameras and asking the Gettysburg police to patrol more frequently.

Peddigree said she would be moving the picnic tables from the skate park.

Peddigree said there had been confrontations among parents in the youth football league and that the police had been out to the park as a result.

Toddes said he had talked to the football coaches. “There’s been some conflicts,” he said.

Peddigree said the issues seem to have receded for the moment.

Treasurer Max Laing said the GARA finances were in decent shape with about $78,000 in the bank but that both Gettysburg Borough and Cumberland Township would reduce their 2021 contributions from $80,000 to $66,000.

“Most payments did come in,” said Laing. “We managed to weather the storm.”

“We should be OK budget-wise for 2021,” said Peddigree.

Peddigree said solar lights are being installed in the rec park parking lots and that GARA was applying for a $24,000 grant from the Fund for Adams Investment and Recovery (FAIR) program to help pay its utility bills.

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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