An attempt to unify all city park and recreation facilities’ no-smoking rules raised red flags when it was presented to the Redwood Falls City Council Tuesday evening.
Currently, different city facilities have different no-smoking policies.
The proposed policy suggested by the parks and recreation commission would prohibit tobacco use “at or on any City-owned or operated outdoor recreational facilities, including the restrooms, spectator and concession areas.
“These facilities include all City buildings and property, the Redwood Area Community Center building and property, the Redwood Falls Aquatics Center and property, Ramsey Park, playgrounds, athletic fields, parks, and walking/biking trails.”
Councilor John Buckley said he was okay with the policy until he got to the part about tobacco being banned on city walking trails.
“We’re talking about legislating behavior here, and I have a problem with that,” he said. “If someone wants to light up on a city trail, do we stop them at the park entrance?
“Indoors it makes a lot of sense. Outdoors how much are we going to try to control everyone?”
He added, “I could see limiting it to ball fields or the RACC, but how far do we go with it? It’s not a health issue. Do we stop at limiting what foods they can eat?”
The resolution states one of its goals is to protect children from unhealthy behavior, prompting Buckley to ask why the policy should apply to facilities being used during adult activities, such as league softball or volleyball games.
Councilor Corey Theis noted that he’s never observed anyone having a problem with smoking in Ramsey Park, and that at the volleyball courts he’s often seen adults smoking or drinking when no children were nearby.
Councilor Jim Sandgren, who is involved with youth hockey activities, said he’d prefer to continue setting aside designated areas for smokers, as is currently done for league hockey games at RACC.
“It makes more sense to do that than to throw a blanket over the whole city saying, ‘You can’t smoke here,’” Sandgren said.
“Many of the parents who come to youth hockey games are from out of town. We wouldn’t be sending the message, ‘Welcome to friendly Redwood Falls.’”
The proposed policy would not include rented campsites in Ramsey Park.
Buckley said, “We do need to segregate (smokers), but if someone in the campground can smoke, what happens if they walk over to the zoo?”
Sandgren said, “What if it’s enforced for one guy, and then he notices for the next guy it’s not?”
Page 2 of 3 - Buckley also noted the rule would have to be enforced strictly, for everyone at all times.
“”We can’t selectively enforce it. We need to have certain areas where the no-smoking rule is steadfast, like at the school. But city wide? Do we want to go there?” Buckley said.
The discussion ended with the proposed policy being tabled so the parks and recreation commission and council could refine it.
In other city news, the council:
• Approved an approximately $9,500 renovation of the city hall building to accommodate two new offices due to the relocation of two employees to city hall from other locations.
• Approved the purchase of a new gymnastics floor for the Redwood Area Community Center (RACC).
The floor will be used once by Concordia College for an event on Jan. 6, 2013, then will be sold to RACC for $16,496, to be paid for through the Joint City-School Fund.
• Approved an approximately $6,000 remodeling of the RACC customer service area, expanding its width by two feet to provide more room for storage and staff.
The project will done in-house by the parks and recreation staff, and paid for out of donations from the Martin and Winifred Ehlers Charitable Trust.
• Approved a resolution accepting an equipment donation from the Cardinal Youth Football Association in order to continue the 5th and 6th grade football program.
• Approved allowing all city full-time employees to join in the corporate fitness membership program at the RACC.
Until now, only Redwood Area Hospital city employees were part of the program.
• Declared 309 Front Street a hazard to public safety.
After Tim Hanna, the city Fire Marshall, obtained an administrative search warrant to inspect the home, numerous fire code violations and health violations were discovered.
According to city administrator Keith Muetzel, the property’s owner notified the city he was willing to work with the city to resolve the issues.
• Approved an ordinance bringing city law in line with state law on temporary liquor licenses, extending the limit on the licenses from three days to four.
• Heard Mayor Gary Revier’s proclamation declaring Oct. 22-28 as “Minnesota Manufacturers Week” in the city.
• Accepted the appointment of Jason Jacobson and Ryan Hansch as volunteer firefighters.
• Accepted the resignation of Phil Martin from the airport commission.
• Approved a request from the Redwood County VFW for a Sunday On-Sale Liquor Application.
• Approved final appointments to the Hospital CEO search committee. The committee will consist of:
• Dr. Thomas Gross, ACMC representative.
• Calvin “Chico” Jensen, Hospital Commission representative.
Page 3 of 3 - • Pam Lerdal, resident.
• Corey Theis, City Council President.
• Todd Peterson, resident.
• Keith Muetzel, city administrator
• Missi Meyer, city finance director.