INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — In reaction to IVGID’s decision to restrict beach access for the July 4 fireworks show, Red, White and Tahoe Blue officials are reminding locals and visitors there are other spots to view the display.
“I’m hopeful that with proper communication and support by IVGID staff and local agencies, only positive outcomes will result,” Jim Smith, chairman of the Red, White and Tahoe Blue festival, said in a statement to the Bonanza. “I’m sensitive to those folks who, based on past practice, may arrive and may not have been informed about the new beach access restrictions for July 4th.”
Last week, Incline Village General Improvement District General Manager Steve Pinkerton announced that personnel will staff the entrances to Ski, Incline and Burnt Cedar beaches until 10 p.m. on Friday, July 4.
The move effectively disallows members of the general public to get an up-front view of the eighth annual RWTB display, scheduled for roughly 9:30 p.m. on Independence Day.
Despite Smith’s sensitivity to the change — which is being prepared for by way of increased security and the potential for more law enforcement — he also supports it as a member of the IVGID Board of Trustees.
“… My position as an IVGID trustee is to provide sound leadership to safeguard and protect our parcel owners’ precious beach resources and community’s assets,” he said in his statement. “The decision to restrict access to residents and guests was the right first step. It’s imperative that we remember that our beaches are one of IVGID’s most desirable assets and demand proper stewardship.”
According to IVGID law, only district residents with beach access and their guests can enter Ski, Incline and Burnt Cedar. The lakefront properties are pieces of land deemed “public with restrictions.”
In previous years, however, IVGID treated the Fourth of July like any summer day and stopped manning entrances after 8 p.m. — thus allowing nonresidents and those without a valid IVGID picture pass or punch card onto the beaches.
Pinkerton said he made the change this year for safety reasons, considering the district has reported record or near-record crowds at the beaches each of the past two July 4 holidays. The decision also was made in an effort to improve resident exclusivity on the beaches.
“I’ve heard real positive feedback from the community and home owners … there has been no negative feedback from the community,” Pinkerton said Wednesday.
However, as news of the change spread, Pinkerton said he’s heard rumors that IVGID has made the fireworks a completely private show.
“That’s just not the case … and is absolutely false,” he said. “It’s simply the beaches that are restricted … which we feel will make a better event for everybody.”
While the fireworks are best viewed from Incline and Ski beaches, those without access can buy tickets ($10 for children, $40 for adults) to see them, along with a tandem Reno Philharmonic Orchestra concert, from across the street at the Village Green.
Further, Smith said upgrades this year will allow fireworks to shoot farther away from the shore and higher in the air, making them viewable from many locations outside the beaches.
Still, IVGID is preparing for the potential that a large amount of people will have to be denied access.
“We will have more staff at the beach entrances and more security … so that we have plenty of opportunities to warn people,” Pinkerton said.
IVGID also is working with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office on a plan to control crowds, should that be needed.
While details are still being worked out, the sheriff’s office is “very aware of the situation,” WCSO Public Information Officer Bob Harmon said Wednesday.
“We will make sure our units are available to respond if needed,” he said “… There’s no doubt this a change, and it definitely might present some consequences. We are aware that is an eventuality.”
In what’s become an annual safety measure, the stretch of Lakeshore Boulevard between Country Club and Village boulevards will be closed to through traffic from 8 p.m. July 4 until the post-fireworks crowds have dispersed, Harmon said.
Further, the eastbound lane of Lakeshore will be closed between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. on July 4 to help control heavy beach and boat traffic.