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Tougher tobacco ordinance for parks

The Woodbury City Council approved last week a series of amendments to about a half-dozen sections of the city's park ordinance, one change which includes tougher tobacco restrictions in city parks.

The council's 4-0 vote Wednesday, March 25 approved a parks commission recommendation to restrict 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 tobacco ordinance amendment was first discussed by the city council in April 2008.

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.

In March the city's volunteer parks commission recommended the tobacco ordinance that aims for congruency with District 833's tobacco restrictions as it pertains to athletic fields.

Parks staff first brought up the tobacco amendment a year ago 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 often walk just a few feet off the school grounds to smoke in the park, according to local public safety officials.

The new change would restrict all forms of tobacco usage on athletic fields and playgrounds, including chewing tobacco and snuff.

Other changes included in the ordinance amendment include:

• Modified hours for special events in the parks and for usage of lighted fields

• An animals provision that states anyone who brings their dogs to the Dale Road off-leash dog park must have valid a Woodbury dog license for the dog

Parks director Bob Klatt said that the change would make sure the park is being primarily used by Woodbury residents, as dog parks in the metro area tend to be heavily used, which often degrade the conditions.

Non-Woodbury residents can purchase Woodbury dog licenses, Klatt said, if they wanted to use the park.

• An change to a section on conservation of vegetation that would allow for volunteers to remove buckthorn in city parks. Buckthorn is considered an invasive species.

• A change to parking restrictions in Bielenberg Sports Center parking lots, which restricts the hours that vehicles can be parked in the lots between 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday - Friday. This change is to ensure that all students that drive to East Ridge High School are using the student parking lot on the school grounds rather than the adjacent park parking lots, a staff report stated.