Smoking ban proposed in parks
Waupaca also considers banning vaping on city property
By Angie Landsverk
An ordinance that bans smoking and the use of e-cigarettes in city of Waupaca parks will be drafted.
When the Parks and Recreation Board met on Sept. 5, it voted 7-0 in favor of moving forward with that action.
John Kneer and Pat Phair were absent.
“I think we have an opportunity to be leaders in our community when it comes to keeping our community clean and our kids healthy,” Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Whitman wrote in a memo to the board.
He said there is not a timeline yet for drafting the ordinance.
Whitman wants something in place before the parks open next spring.
City Administrator Aaron Jenson and Police Chief Brian Hoelzel will help create the ordinance, which will then go before the common council.
The proposed ordinance will include fines and enforcement.
“The first person I went to was the police chief,” Whitman said in regard to enforcement. “That support was given.”
If the council approves the ordinance, there will be an advertising campaign to make people aware of it, Whitman said.
“We will post it, and it will be known,” he said.
Whitman has talked to officials in communities that banned smoking and e-cigarettes in their parks.
They have not had problems, he said.
“We would try to tailor the ordinance based off of what other communities have already done,” Whitman said.
Smoking may be banned on all city property
He also said Waupaca’s council could decide to take the idea a step further and ban smoking and e-cigarettes on all city property.
Whitman noted it is banned on all school property.
“And no one bats an eye at it,” he said.
Whitman thinks the city should be on the same page as the school district.
Complaints about people smoking around children in city parks date back at least eight years.
The Parks and Recreation Department took a number of actions before its most recent vote in favor of a smoking ban.
In 2011, the Parks and Recreation Department received complaints specifically related to Swan Park.
After the department posted Young Lungs at Play signage there, the number of complaints decreased.
Three years later, a city resident asked the Parks and Recreation Board if there was support for a smoking ban in all city parks.
A year later, he asked again.
Jenson was the city’s parks and recreation director at the time.
The board recommended expanding the Young Lungs at Play message to the playground, shelter and athletic areas throughout its park system.
Those signs went up in the spring of 2016.
Since becoming director last year, Whitman has also received complaints about cigarette butts continuing to be found in the parks and people smoking around children.
“I’ve been keeping an eye on it,” he said.
Whitman counted the cigarette butts he saw around playground areas and the number of people smoking around children.
After research and discussion, the board agreed an ordinance should be drafted.
Following its vote, board member Loren Fritz noted vaping and e-cigarettes are a national issue.
“There are people dying from that stuff,” he said.