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Divided over smoking in parks

The discussion over whether smoking should be banned in Estacada city parks heated up during the council meeting on Monday, Oct.14.

In September, Shirley Burke had presented the council with 77 signatures in support of banning smoking in city parks.

“(Wade Creek Park) is a family park. It’s kids’ privilege to not see smoking in that park and to not be peer-pressured into it because they’re younger,” Burke told the council on Oct. 14.

Burke said that she is in Wade Creek Park almost every day and she sees “cigarette butts everywhere.”

Sandy and Estacada Police Chief Kim Yamashita said that she would advocate prohibiting any tobacco use in city parks, as is the case in Sandy.

Yamashita explained that banning tobacco use in city parks would be helpful to law enforcement.

Tobacco-use in a city park would be considered a civil infraction and could incur a minor fine.

Officers would also be able to exclude rule-breakers from city parks for a period of time.

Skip Haak, chair of the Parks & Recreation Commission, told the council that the commission had discussed the issue of smoking in Wade Creek Park.

Haak said that a member of the commission was concerned that a smoking ban would prevent smoking parents from bringing their children to the park.

Yamashita said that over her last two shifts in Estacada she’d spent a great deal of time observing the activity in Wade Creek Park.

She said she had not seen many parents with kids smoking there, rather teens by the skate park seemed to be the biggest tobacco users in the park.

Councilor Curt Steininger said that he’d consider banning smoking within 10 feet of play structures but he would “caution against banning all smoking.”

“When we say ‘Are we taking away people’s rights?’ Well, what about the kid’s rights?” Councilor Sean Drinkwine responded. “This is not a freedom issue. This is about saving our children. We built them this park, let’s give them that.”

“Kids have a right not to be around smoke,” he added later.

“Smoking has been around a hell of a long time and we’re all still here,” Steininger said.

Councilor Rob Gaskill pointed out that bar owners had been worried their businesses would be ruined when Oregon banned smoking in indoor enclosed workplaces, but their businesses were far from ruined.

Council President Michele Conditt said that she had been ambivalent about the issue before, but after listening to Yamashita’s comments, she was leaning towards “giving the police this tool.”

“I think I would be kind of inclined to see us have a total ban of tobacco products,” she said.

Melanie Wagner, assistant to the city manager, said later that the council had agreed to send out a short survey to gauge peoples’ opinion of a tobacco-use ban in city parks.

The short survey will be mailed with utility bills on Oct. 28.

The council will return to the issue during the council meeting at 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 25 at City Hall.

Public comment is invited.




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