An ordinance prohibiting smoking at properties owned or managed by Jamestown Parks and Recreation Department passed by a 3-2 vote Monday, according to Mindi Schmitz, chairperson of the Parks and Recreation Commission.
The new ordinance will go into effect three days after the official publication of the ordinance, said Doug Hogan, superintendent of the district. The park district previously prohibited smoking in buildings it operated. The new ordinance expands the no-smoking rules to outdoor areas including parks, playgrounds, athletic fields, golf course, walking or hiking trails and parking lots.
The ordinance also applies to any organization that rents property from Jamestown Parks and Recreation.
Schmitz and Commissioners Mike Soulis and Mark Ukestad voted in favor of the tobacco-free ordinance with Ron Olson and Mike Landscoot opposed.
The idea of making the outdoor properties of Jamestown Parks and Recreation tobacco free was first voted on in 2017. At that time placing a second reading of the ordinance on the agenda failed by a 1-3 vote with Ukestad in favor and Commissioners Larry Knoblich, Olson and Landscoot opposed. By not placing a second reading of the ordinance on the agenda it was effectively killed at that time.
"It was about time," Schmitz said, speaking of the consideration the ordinance received this year. "It is time to make our green spaces and public parks safe."
The move to make the parks smoke free was applauded by Casey Anderson of Jamestown. Anderson's 6-year-old son Kierran has severe asthma and smoking in parks and near playground equipment has caused health problems in the past.
"Several incidents where we have had to ask people to quit smoking," she said. "Sometimes it has resulted in trips to the emergency room."
Hogan said among the biggest problems with tobacco use in the park was smokers near playground equipment where small children were present.
Hogan said there is no penalty for tobacco use built into the ordinance. Plans for enforcement include signage and public education about the ordinance.
Jamestown Parks and Recreation also passed an ordinance closing all Parks and Recreation property from 10:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. each day.
"We had to change the hours because there was so much vandalism in the parks last summer," Schmitz said.
The ordinance has an exemption for people participating in an event organized by the district that would possibly extend past 10:30 p.m. In that circumstance, the people may continue the game but must leave park district property at the end of the event.
Enforcement of the park hours falls to the Jamestown Police Department. Violation of the ordinance is considered an infraction and punishable by a fine of up to $50 for a first offense or $250 for the second and subsequent offenses within one year.
The ordinances go into effect on Jan. 19.
"We are sending a message to the public that we are trying to keep the parks and green spaces safe," Schmitz said.