City getting tougher on tobacco in parksThe city of Woodbury is looking to get tougher on tobacco in its parks. The Woodbury City Council gave direction to its staff last week to draft an ordinance.
By: Hank Long, Woodbury Bulletin
The city of Woodbury is looking to get tougher on tobacco in its parks.
The Woodbury City Council gave direction to its staff last week to draft an ordinance that would make Central Park complex, Bielenberg Sports Center and Ojibway Park “tobacco free” zones.
Smoking would be restricted in the entirety of all three parks, with an exemption made for people who smoke inside their own vehicles, parks and recreation director Bob Klatt said at the city council workshop Wednesday, where the council members also discussed the possibility of restricting smoking on restaurant patios, which failed to garner any support.
The council also gave direction to staff to adopt Washington County parks’ tobacco free policy which restricts smoking within 100 feet of any county beach, playground and athletic field. If approved, the ordinance would do the same for municipal beaches, playgrounds and athletic fields.
City administrator Clint Gridley said a proposed draft of the ordinance is likely to be presented at an upcoming city council meeting.
Students’ smoking targeted
An impetus for the tobacco restrictions surfaced after parks staff noted that Woodbury High School students have been reportedly smoking in Ojibway Park, which is adjacent to campus.
“With East Ridge High School coming in and the improvements we’re making to Bielenberg (Sports Center), we began having more of those questions as to smoking in parks nearby schools,” Gridley said. “The schools are already tobacco-free zones, and this would just extend that out to the adjacent parks.”
Last year local authorities noticed several instances where WHS students would not be allowed to smoke on school grounds, but would “walk just a few feet off the school grounds to smoke in the park,” said Woodbury Public Safety director Lee Vague.
The council did discuss the possibility of banning smoking in all parks and trails in Woodbury, but came to the consensus that such a ban would be unnecessarily restrictive.
“I don’t want people who are just out on a walk and not causing problems feel like they can’t smoke,” said Woodbury City Council member Amy Scoggins, who voiced her concerns with a ban on all park property.
The council ended up giving direction to its administrative staff to draft an ordinance that would essentially restrict smoking within the boundaries of Central Park, BSC and Ojibway, and would also restrict tobacco use within 100 feet of all municipal beaches, playgrounds and athletic fields.
If approved the new restrictions would be enforced by way of a warning and possible administrative fine of $25.
Vague said he doesn’t believe such an ordinance would affect public safety resources, as he said it would be complaint and education based.
“We would be educating people through the Woodbury Athletic Association and with signs and city communications,” Vague said. “It wouldn’t be our goal to write tickets, just to let people know they shouldn’t be smoking in tobacco free zones.”
If the ordinance is adopted, the city would install tobacco free zone signs in corresponding parks and inform residents via its news letter.
Gridley said the likely smoking restrictions as they would pertain to municipal parks are not ahead of the curve when compared to other cities in the metro area. Cities such as Maple Grove, Hastings and Eden Prairie have outlawed smoking in all parks. More than 100 Minnesota cities have similar restrictions, Woodbury recreation specialist Michelle Okada wrote in a report to the council.
“It’s a learning curve for some folks, but hopefully it will put us more in line with Washington County parks,” Vague said.