No Smoking

Members of the Pacific Park Board want aldermen to enact an ordinance prohibiting smoking near the children’s playground areas in the city park, but some aldermen called for delay in acting on the measure.

The park board called for a park rule that prohibits smoking within 20 feet of the playground area near the Rulon pavilion and the merry-go-round and small equipment near the city swimming pool.

The board also wants the city to purchase butt cans to be placed in the park for smokers to discard cigarette butts.

Speaking at the April 16 board of aldermen meeting, Park Board President Stephen Flannery III said board members had discussed the issue at their April meeting and voted to ask for the ordinance.

Flannery said a survey of the area around the children’s equipment showed discarded cigarette butts on the ground and in the mulch next to the equipment.

Park board members are worried about the health of the children, and also have concerns about fire safety and cleanliness of the parks, Flannery said.

Alderman Carol Johnson said when the park board discussed the measure there was trouble fielding a quorum and in the end the president had to vote in order to have a quorum.

Johnson, who is a member of the park board, said she voted no because there were not enough members involved in the discussion.

Flannery said the measure had been handled appropriately.

“I’ve been on the park board for four years and we’ve struggled to have a full complement of board members at many meetings,” he said. “That’s why you have a quorum so you can do business without all the members present.”

Johnson said she wants to see more people talk about the no smoking rule before aldermen act on the issue.

Alderman Mike Pigg agreed, comparing the issue with the St. Louis Street parking issue where he said rash action resulted in putting signs up, taking signs down.

Pigg also said cans for cigarette butts are among items frequently stolen from public places.

“If you’re going to get prices to buy them, you’d better also get the cost of something to secure them in place,” he said. “Otherwise they’ll be stolen.”

Following a motion by Alderman Mike Bates, a second by Alderman Walter Arnette, the board agreed to put the measure on the agenda for a future meeting.

“I’d like to see a public discussion on this,” Bates said.

Flannery said the park board is open to a public discussion on the idea.

“In the end we want to do what is right for everyone,” he said. “We’re all for more discussion.”