By Mary Thurwachter

Despite the uncertainty connected to the coronavirus, Town Manager Deborah Manzo didn’t have to wait long for an answer when she asked whether or not to commit to a fireworks contract for the Fourth of July.

The $30,000 contract with Zambelli Fireworks would need to be signed soon to reserve the date, Manzo said. But if the town decided at some point to cancel, Lantana would lose between $6,500 to $17,000, depending on how close to the show date the cancellation was made.

The council voted March 23 to go ahead, regardless of the possibility of cancellation due to COVID-19.

Even if a large gathering in Bicentennial Park were prohibited at the time, the fireworks could still go off from a barge on the Intracoastal Waterway so residents would have something special to watch that evening, council members agreed.

Memories of the last time Lantana didn’t have fireworks on the Fourth of July, in 2011, still haunt Mayor Dave Stewart and Vice Mayor Lynn Moorhouse, who were both on the council at the time.

“I had 30 unhappy people at the door. We had sad little kids dressed in red-white-and-blue turn out at Bicentennial Park,” Stewart said. Father David Kennedy of Church of the Holy Guardian Angels “was praying for me. He said fireworks are America and help people shake off a depressing economy.”

“It was horrible,” Moorhouse added. “Let’s have fireworks!”

Stewart said the plus side of contracting for the fireworks show outweighed the possibility of financial loss.

“Fireworks make people feel good,” Stewart said, “and people need that.”

A concrete answer for the nature trail

On another matter, the council voted to pave the Lantana Nature Preserve trail with concrete, a choice rejected previously as it was considered too costly (about $130,000). In addition to money the town has already set aside for the project, about $60,000, funds will be taken from reserves and paid back from annual payments received from the Carlisle assisted-living facility for maintenance.

The council debated what type of material to use for the trail for more than two years, and twice decided on asphalt — an unpopular choice with Friends of the Nature Preserve.

In February, another option was considered: crushed concrete, which was less costly than asphalt and more eco-friendly.

But on March 23, Stewart proposed concrete, considered the best long-lasting solution.

“We’ve kicked this tin can down the road so long it’s not even a can anymore,” Stewart said. “I don’t want this to come up ever again in my lifetime!”

“That’s music to my ears,” Manzo said.

In other news, the council, for safety reasons, voted to remove obtrusive road striping on Hypoluxo Island in compliance with Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices guidelines for streets and highways. Removing the yellow lines will cost about $5,000.

Islanders, in person and with letters, urged the town to remove the double yellow lines after several residents had to leap into the bushes to avoid being hit by speeding vehicles whose drivers would not pull over.

Hypoluxo Island does not have sidewalks.

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