The Colony appears ready to move the Liberty by the Lake event permanently to the Five Star Complex as opposed to leaving it at Stewart Creek Park.
The annual Independence Day celebration for years has taken place at Stewart Creek Park but was held at Five Star Complex this year because of wet conditions at the park. In fact it was held at Five Star in 2015 and 2016 for the same reasons.
During a City Council meeting earlier this month David Swain, recreation manager, outlined several pros and cons of keeping the event at Five Star.
He said among the advantages is the complex has multiple access points, whereas the park only has one. Council members said it seems safer to have it at Five Star because of accessibility.
“The limited access in and out (at Stewart Creek Park) becomes a growing concern for me year after year,” Councilman David Terre said.
Councilman Brian Wade agreed.
“It puts a strain on the lake, but it also puts a strain on our first responders if something were to happen out there,” Wade said.
Swain said other advantages of the complex include being able to use The Colony High School as an emergency shelter, whereas the park doesn’t have that option.
“Their car is about their only option at the park,” Swain said.
Other benefits include having additional parking lots available with both Five Star and The Colony High School, which would eliminate the traffic congestion in neighborhoods near the park.
Swain said the complex provides a paved area in case of wet conditions, and alcohol consumption is more limited, thus fewer incidents to make it a more family-friendly atmosphere.
Swain said there are additional viewing areas for fireworks, such as Grandscape and Home Depot. He said there are more opportunities for local businesses to “piggy back” on the event.
Terre said the city needs to consider the projected growth of the city and the event.
“I love the lake, but being practical about it I think it's time to make the Five Star transition,” Terre said.
Swain said cons of Five Star include having a generic setting, there's often a late-arriving crowd and attendees can't bring in coolers.
Swain said among the pros of returning to Stewart Creek Park is it provides a unique lakeside setting.
“The lake is a big part of what makes the event what it has been,” Swain said. “It's a great location, and people in The Colony are lake folks, so it fits into their way of celebrating. Everybody here loves the lake.”
He said it's a safe and secure fireworks shoot site since they can be shot off from the peninsula, which allows for unique water shells and larger shells.
Swain said at the park residents can bring their own coolers, food and alcohol to the event, whereas there are limitations at Five Star because of its proximity to a school.
And he said it would allow organizers to incorporate the lake into the event with such attractions as wakeboarding, swimming, boating, etc.
Mayor Joe McCourry said he supports having the event at Five Star but said some residents who live on the peninsula indicated they're willing to put up with the traffic congestion for one night. He added that few cities are located by the lake like The Colony is.
Councilman Kirk Mikulec said while he would prefer the event stays at Stewart Creek Park, he wants a name of the event to change if it moves to Five Star permanently.
A formal announcement is expected in the coming weeks.