Gates could be the solution to the turmoil that continues to mar Whitehall's July Fourth fireworks, Mayor Kim Maggard said Friday, July 8.

Gates could be the solution to the turmoil that continues to mar Whitehall's July Fourth fireworks, Mayor Kim Maggard said Friday, July 8.

Maggard said there are "no concrete plans" but that checkpoints into John Bishop Park before future fireworks displays are a possibility.

The tactic was among those discussed last Thursday, July 7, during a meeting of Maggard, Police Chief Mark Newcomb, Fire Chief Preston Moore and Gail Martineau, the city's community affairs coordinator.

"There are no concrete plans because these decisions require a lot of research," said Maggard, but first-take ideas include gated entries into Bishop Park on the evening of the fireworks and a requirement that anyone 17 or younger be accompanied by an adult.

Whether the accompanying adult would be required to be 18 or 21 years old remains under consideration, she said.

Maggard said the checkpoints could entail a reasonable search of carry-on property and that all considerations of regulatory actions would be subject to review by City Attorney Michael Blevins.

Changes in pre-fireworks entertainment and activities will be revisited, Maggard said.

"I am confident there are legal ways to better control access (and) confident we can find a way that will allow those who choose to enjoy our fireworks to do so safely," Maggard said.

The July 8 meeting was in response to multiple arrests made July 3 at John Bishop Park for the third consecutive year during the city's fireworks show.

The 14 arrests match the number arrested at last year's fireworks show and prove, Maggard said, that there is no connection to the date of Red, White & Boom, the city of Columbus' fireworks event.

This year, Red, White & Boom was held July 1, leaving Whitehall as one the few places in all of central Ohio with fireworks July 3. Most other suburbs launched their fireworks July 4.

Last year, Red, White & Boom coincided with Whitehall's fireworks, yet 14 people still were arrested in Whitehall.

The scheduling of Red, White & Boom "isn't a factor," said Maggard, who instead linked the continuing problems to high "rates of activity" in neighboring Columbus.

"The (Columbus police) precincts that border us are very active," she said.

She opined many of Whitehall's problems can be traced to unsupervised juveniles, a problem she said she hopes can be mitigated or eliminated with a policy that requires supervision.

"There are simply too many unsupervised youth and it is hard for us to be parenting all these kids," she said.

Maggard said the city will keep looking at how to approach policing and public safety at the event, an effort that began in earnest after the 2014 event, during which 27 people were arrested.

City leaders changed the location of the fireworks and rescheduled a midway-style carnival that safety forces believed was linked to the unrest that rocked the event in 2014.

In addition to the 14 arrested July 3 at Bishop Park for disorderly conduct, a 21-year-old man was injured by what appears to be celebratory gunfire, Whitehall Sgt. John Grebb said. The incident remains under investigation.

Mario Jovanovski sought medical attention from medics at the park, Grebb said.

Jovanovski sustained an injury to the top of his head when he was struck by a bullet of an unknown caliber, most likely from celebratory gunfire, police said.

In unrelated incidents at Bishop Park, police reported arrests were made for disorderly conduct and also in connection with a stolen vehicle.

Half of the 14 arrests stemmed from the stolen vehicle, Grebb said.

"We are vigilant about who comes and goes from the park," Grebb said, and after observing an unusually large number of juveniles arrive in a vehicle, officers found the vehicle had been reported stolen, he said.

The seven juveniles face a variety of charges, including receiving stolen property, Grebb said.

The other seven arrests related to several separate incidents of disorderly conduct.

All but two of the 14 arrested were juveniles, Grebb said.

Reports indicated a majority of those arrested do not reside in Whitehall, as was the case with those arrested the previous two years.

Whitehall City Councilman Lee Stahley said he's taking a hard look at what needs to be done.

"A lot of things are on the table and we are hearing a lot of suggestions from the community members," said Stahley, chairman of City Council's safety committee.

"We are looking at restructuring the Fourth of July so as to limit those from outside our community coming (to the event)," he said.

Stahley said he could not be specific about any policy change but that a change in venue was not beyond consideration.

Stahley said July 8 he planned to recommend at the Tuesday, July 12, meeting of council committees that a new committee be formed to discuss and make recommendations concerning policy of the city's Fourth of July entertainment and fireworks.