Young Lungs At Play

The City of Warren moved one step closer to restricting tobacco use in public places where children may be present Tuesday evening.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission approved wording for an amendment to the city recreation ordinance. The amendment would add a new subsection to section i, which governs personal conduct in parks, recreation and conservation areas.

Section i reads, “It shall be unlawful for any person in any park, recreation or conservation area to:”

The proposed new section would read, “Smoking cigarette, cigar, pipe or other tobacco product anywhere within the grounds (where children are present) of the playground equipment area, public restroom or portable toilet, youth ball field area, municipal pool or skate park area of Betts Park, Beaty Park (in its entirety), Point Park, Mulberry Park, Municipal Pool Complex, Breeze Point Park, Lacy Park, DeFrees Park, Musante Field and Crescent Park (is prohibited). Any individual violating this provision shall be immediately ejected from said recreation, park or conservation area.”

City staff is still adjusting the specific wording of the amendment to fit the existing ordinance and provide clear intent.

Unlike other personal conduct provisions in the ordinance, violations of the new provision would not be subject to a fine, only ejection from the premises.

The ordinance is also worded to avoid prohibition of smoking in all areas covered. According to city staff, the wording intentionally targets areas children frequent, while leaving other areas where tobacco use is common.

“I think the push back from the Betts area would be enormous,” City Parks and Recreation Director Mary Ann Nau said.

Commission members voted to approve the amendment wording and forward it for final approval by city council.

The move is part of the Young Lungs at Play program and signage will be provided to the city to post non-smoking areas.

The provision would be enforcable by the city manager, city police or a city managers designee.

Nau said the measure would likely appear on the agenda at council’s Oct. 21 meeting.

Commission members also reviewed city fees, programs and revenues related to recreational areas in advance of the yearly budget process. No formal recommendations were made.

Heidi Ekey of the Community Mobilization Initiative also provided an update on the planned fitness park at DeFrees Park.

She noted the project has received $15,000 from the DeFrees Foundation and another $15,000 from the Community Foundation of Warren County, noting the Community Foundation has pledged a total of $25,000.

Ekey said the Initiative did not have an agreement written up with the city yet, but City Manager Nancy Freenock said she had one she would forward to Ekey to start the process.

Ekey also asked commission members for suggestions of other projects volunteers could do at the park on Make a Difference Day, Oct. 26.

“We really think we aren’t going to have as much work for people to do on Make a Difference Day as we thought,” Ekey said, noting most of the installation work for the fitness park will have to be done by professionals.

City Director of Public Works Mike Holtz said he will meet with Initiative members at the park to discuss additional projects at the site.

The group has a health fair planned at DeFrees this Saturday, Oct. 5, and is planning a pancake breakfast fundraiser in November.