MONTCLAIR, Va. - For the first time in nearly six decades, a beloved Prince William County community's Independence Day Celebration is canceled.
The Northern Virginia town of Montclair has been home to a spectacular fireworks show for years.
The extravaganza is put on by the Prince William County Fire Department. But this year, there will be no show.
The popular private Dolphin Beach is closed due to an improvement project and residents have mixed reactions.
The show usually attracts thousands who would rather not travel into D.C. for the Fourth.
"This is our first summer here. We actually just moved in so we were expecting it so our plans have changed," says Montclair resident Fino Saladini.
The Saladini family just moved to the Dumfries neighborhood. They say the lake view was a selling point and the annual fireworks show an added bonus.
"We actually moved on the lake and before we signed the contract it was full of water. After we moved in the water was gone so my wife was pretty upset," says Saladini.
"We heard they celebrate each holiday, awesome but this year is the first time that we moved to Montclair and we’re not going to have 4th of July and I’m so sad but we’re going to go somewhere else to see some fireworks," said Fino's wife, Sibel Saladini.
On its website, the Montclair Property Owners Association says the Independence Day Celebration is canceled due to the spillway alteration project.
"The beaches are closed for an improvement project. They’re being dredged so that they could remain private property. Certain type of maintenance needs to be done so that the properties... otherwise they become state property," says resident Maria Cheeks.
Cheeks says the improvement project started this spring.
"The association complied and did the dredging project and dredged the lake and closed them for the summer but at least they’ll be up to state code and we’ll be able to keep them within the association," she said.
Dolphin Beach is just one of three private beaches in Montclair. The fireworks show usually attracts people from all over and typically starts at 9 p.m.
"Everybody is really sad, trying to scramble... what we’re going to do for our celebration for the Fourth of July this year," said Cheeks.
The improvement project should be completed by the end of the year. Town officials approximate sometime between September and December. Residents say the homeowners association has provided continuous updates.
Residents have know about the improvement project for the last year.
The Montclair Property Owners Association released the following statement to FOX 5:
"The Montclair Property Owners Association (MPOA) Board of Directors, on behalf of the Association and its members, have been working diligently throughout a multiyear process to find a solution that accomplishes compliance with new state dam safety regulations, while also keeping Montclair a very desirable, attractive, and valued community in the southeastern part of Prince William County. The MPOA has spent the past several years engaged with state and local officials, engineers, and finally a contractor, to modify the Lake Montclair Auxiliary Spillway, better known as Dolphin Beach, in order for the spillway to accommodate the state specified Probably Maximum Precipitation into Lake Montclair capable of causing a flood through the auxiliary spillway. This project also serves to protect the nearly 400 occupied structures, local, and interstate highways downstream that would be severely impacted should the auxiliary spillway fail. The construction phase of the project began in April of this year and is expected to be complete in mid to late September, if all continues to go as scheduled. An unfortunate side effect of this project is the temporary closure of Lake Montclair and Montclair’s three private recreational beaches due to having to lower the level of the lake 20’ as part of the project. As such, since Dolphin Beach is the location of Montclair’s Annual Independence Day celebration for its residents and their guests, the MPOA fireworks display had to be canceled. Effort was made to identify an alternative location within the community to hold the fireworks, but there was no other safe location within Montclair to do so. Upon completion of the project, Montclair will be fully compliant with state dam safety regulations. Lake Montclair will return to its normal pool level and will once again be the amenity to Montclair residents it has been for 50+ years. Dolphin Beach will be restored, and if all goes to plan, will host Montclair’s 2019 Annual Independence Day celebration, as well as the numerous other events held for Montclair residents annually."