FORSYTH COUNTY — Despite changes to state law that made fireworks legal earlier this month, Forsyth County authorities are taking precautions to avoid damage to local parks.
The Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Board reviewed the situation during a meeting last week. Parks Director Jim Pryor told the board the law, which took effect July 1, means that “pretty much anybody can [shoot them off] anywhere they want.”
“It also gives people the ability to shoot fireworks on any public land at any time they want,” he said. “So technically, someone could walk out into the middle of a soccer game and start with a couple thousand people at the park and start shooting fireworks.”
Pryor said that the position of county will be to continue to enforce rules that were in place prior to the change.
“It was determined by the commissioners that we already have an ordinance in place that does not allow people to set off any kind of explosives in a park,” Pryor said.
Under the new law, local governments are not allowed to create new laws, but Pryor said that the county would only be enforcing existing ones.
“The House [of Representatives’] bill says that cities and counties can’t make ordinances to trump what they passed through,” he said. “But our stance is that we had an ordinance in place and we’re going to continue to enforce that ordinance.
“Our county says that if somebody wants to challenge us then we’ll go to court and challenge them.”
Pryor had not heard of any incidents in parks during the July Fourth weekend, adding that it is illegal to shoot fireworks on parks owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Parks and recreation across the state have been scrambling to adjust to the new law, and have tried to get the general assembly to change the bill, though they are not currently in session.
“It’s a very bad situation. It’s very dangerous situation,” Pryor said. “It’s had parks and recreation professionals in an uproar across the state.”