Smoking is now prohibited in parts of Union’s parks.
The ordinance, which amends the city’s old ordinance dealing with alcoholic beverages and drugs, now covers smoking and designates nonsmoking areas. The change was supported by the city’s park board and passed unanimously at Tuesday’s board of aldermen meeting.
Under the ordinance smoking is banned within 25 feet of any building, pavilion, pool, dock, gazebo, restrooms or the splash park at any time. The restriction also covers “electronic vapor devices.”
The ordinance also bans smoking on or near any sports fields during any scheduled or organized sporting event.
An exception is made for private rentals of pavilions. The ordinance grants renters the ability to allow smoking as long as everything is cleaned up and any damage repaired.
A partial smoking ban for the city parks was first discussed several years ago, according to Parks and Recreation Director Angela Sullivan. Signs were put up, but there was never an official rule banning smoking in certain areas.
In September, the city’s park board recommended a new ordinance to officially prohibit smoking in certain park areas. The idea was to enact a formal ordinance instead of a simple park rule so the prohibition would be more enforceable.
The ordinance is intended to still allow smoking, but away from structures where people congregate.
Sullivan pushed the revisions after she reported some issues with smoking during her first year as the park director. This summer, at Veterans Memorial Park, people were smoking while standing in lines at the concession stand.
Smoking should have been prohibited based on signage, but with no rule or ordinance on the books, it was unenforceable, she said.
Sullivan told the park board she didn’t think it was right to subject kids and teenage employees to the smoke.
The park board agreed with Sullivan, and voted to amend its rules at its September meeting to include the 25-foot rule.
Fearing a park rule wouldn’t be enough of a deterrent, Sullivan and the park board pushed for an ordinance. Sullivan said it would have “more teeth” than a simple park rule.
An ordinance would allow for city employees to say something and, if needed, have a police officer handle any issues, Sullivan said.
Having an official ordinance was supported by City Attorney Matt Schroeder and Police Chief Norm Brune.
“We have to have an ordinance to enforce something,” Schroeder said in October. “If there’s going to be a fine or possible jail time, you better have an ordinance.”
After a lengthy discussion about the need for an ordinance in October, the board did not debate the issue Tuesday night. The amendment passed without any objections.