ESCANABA - In a 3-2 vote Thursday, Escanaba City Council defeated a motion to prohibit smoking at the new John D. Besse Park. Council members opposing the agenda item said the city's no-smoking ordinance needs more work.
A second public hearing was held Thursday to prohibit smoking and apply city park rules to the new playground located on the corner of 8th Avenue South and South 30th Street.
Following public comment from citizen James Hellermann that the no-smoking ordinance should be repealed, council member Patricia Baribeau made a motion to amend the city ordinances to include Besse Park.
Mayor Leo Evans voted in favor of the motion. Council members Pete Baker, Ron Beauchamp and Marc Tall opposed the motion.
Beauchamp said the no-smoking ordinance needs to be revisited including the size of the area in parks where smoking is prohibited. Concerned the ban area includes the pavilion at Besse Park, he said people should be able to smoke at the picnic table while watching their kids play.
Tall noted he does want rules to apply fairly throughout the city but added he is not sure he agrees with the no-smoking ordinance.
Baker agreed with Beauchamp and Tall, saying the no-smoking ordinance needs more work. He commented he is personally opposed to smoking.
An outdoor no-smoking ordinance was approved by council in July 2011 for specific locations in Escanaba including parks where children are concentrated and city buildings.
The amendment prohibits smoking within 100 feet of city buildings, nine playgrounds, six ball fields, the guarded beach area, Webster pool, and two ice rinks.
The issue was first considered by the city's Recreation Advisory Board after Recreation Director Tom Penegor was approached by the public health department to ban smoking in areas where there are high concentrations of children.
Penegor said Thursday there have been no major problems with the no-smoking ordinance. Once smokers are made aware of the rule, they have complied, he added.
Three weeks ago at the Oct. 17 council meeting, the first reading and public hearing to amend the city's no-smoking and park ordinances to include Besse Park took place.
Beauchamp made the motion to set Nov. 7 for the second reading, public hearing and adoption. Baribeau seconded the motion to set the date, which was approved 5-0 by council.
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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, firstname.lastname@example.org