Tougher tobacco ordinance eyed for city’s parksThe city of Woodbury is looking to move forward with a tougher stance on tobacco in its parks.
By: Hank Long, Woodbury Bulletin
The city of Woodbury is looking to move forward with a tougher stance on tobacco in its parks.
Last week, the city’s parks and recreation commission was to address a recommendation regarding a parks ordinance amendment that would ban any form of tobacco use within 100 feet of any public beach, athletic field or playground.
The ordinance would also make all of Central Park, Bielenberg Sports Center and Ojibway Park “tobacco free” zones.
The commission voted to table the item, but city officials said they expect the ordinance would move forward for council approval within the next month and, if approved, would be implemented by June.
The tobacco ordinance amendment was first discussed by the Woodbury City Council in April 2008, but has been moving forward slowly since then.
During a council workshop discussion last spring, parks staff posed the option for the council to consider banning smoking in all parks and trails in Woodbury, which the council chose not to support.
A January city newsletter sent out to residents highlighted the proposed tobacco restrictions and, to date, the city has not received any negative feedback on the proposed changes, wrote parks and recreation director Bob Klatt in a report on the ordinance amendment.
Also included in the parks ordinance amendment is a proposed change to expand park hours by two hours. Currently, city parks are open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Under the proposed amendment, park hours would be expanded 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Parks staff first brought up the tobacco amendment last spring in response to several instances where local authorities noticed Woodbury High School students smoking in nearby Ojibway Park.
The students, who are not allowed to smoke on school grounds, would “walk just a few feet off the school grounds to smoke in the park,” said Woodbury Public Safety director Lee Vague.
Parks staff discussed the possibility of a similar trend occurring at the new East Ridge High School, which when it opens in September, will be located adjacent to the expanded Bielenberg Sports Center complex.
If the council approves the tougher tobacco restrictions, local authorities would enforce the new laws by way of warning and a possible administrative fine, public safety officials have indicated.
If the ordinance is adopted, the city would install tobacco free zone signs in corresponding parks and inform residents via its newsletter.