Warsaw Parks Board Reverses Course On Smoking Ban

Since the July vote didn’t count, the Warsaw Park Board Tuesday afternoon revisited the issue of a smoking ban in the parks.
This time, however, the board voted not to recommend the city council approve an ordinance prohibiting smoking in the parks. Instead, signs will be put up in the parks requesting people don’t smoke or move somewhere else to smoke.
Parks Superintendent Larry Plummer started off the discussion by reminding the five-member Park Board that at the July meeting it voted 2-1 to recommend the city council pass an ordinance to prohibit smoking in the park. President Steve Haines did not vote and one member was absent.
In talking with city attorney Mike Valentine, while a majority of the members constitutes a quorum, state statue on park boards states “Action of the board is not official unless it is authorized by at least three members present and acting,”?Plummer said. The Park Board at its July meeting had a quorum, but for any action to be approved, three board members had to vote the same way.
Haines asked Plummer if he had to vote because he thought he only voted in the event of a tie. Plummer said he could vote.
Diane Quance, City Council representative to the Park Board, said that at the Lakes Festival a survey was taken by the Center for Lakes and Streams and its director, Dr. Nate Bosch. The No. 1 complaint from people on the survey was the smoking in the parks. People reported leaving the fireworks early because of smoking in the parks.
Board Vice President Larry Ladd, who voted against the smoking ban recommendation at the July meeting, said Tuesday, “I still have a problem with the recommendation to prohibit smoking, simply because I just don’t think it’s enforceable. Who is going to enforce it? You can’t rely on the 19-year-old park employee to enforce it. He’s not going to have the authority anyhow. Is that then going to fall under law enforcement? Is that going to fall under the city police department? Is that how it’s going to be done?”
Bill Baldwin, board member, said businesses have a sign stating that smoking is prohibited within 8 feet of the building and people obey those signs. Plummer informed him that was state law.
Plummer agreed with Ladd and said he didn’t think it should be up to his employees to enforce a smoking ban ordinance. He said they don’t have the authority.
Ladd said he doesn’t have an issue putting up signage requesting people don’t smoke or move to another area.
Rick Paczkowski, board member, said he wasn’t sure how the city council would look at a smoking ordinance and he questioned how enforceable it would be. If signs were put up, he said people would look at those and they would probably work.
After further discussion, Ladd made a motion to recommend to the city council that they don’t pass an ordinance banning smoking in city parks, and his motion was approved.
Quance said if the board just wanted signage, that didn’t require any council action. Plummer said they could just put the signs up since there was no ordinance involved.
Baldwin made a motion to look into signs for the parks and it was unanimously approved. Plummer asked that if anyone had any suggestions on what the signs should say to let him know.
In his report to the board, Maintenance Director Shaun Gardner said installation of the playground at Lucerne Park has been completed this last week.
“It’s already a big hit,” he said, and people really seem to enjoy it.
The shelter at Bixler Park on Ind. 15 is close to being completed with the exception of the concrete underneath it, he said.
Gardner said park employees spent several weeks cleaning up along the Beyer Farm Trail between Pike Lake and Kosciusko Community Hospital. He said it’s pretty cleaned up now. More boards on the boardwalk will be replaced this year.
Quance said a ribbon-cutting ceremony for all the new signs along the trail will be at 9 a.m. Sept. 9.
Plummer said that while the spiral slide at Lucerne Park is still in great shape, the old swing set is rusted. As there is a new playground out there with swings, he recommended the board approve removing the old swing set that is next to the Pete Thorn building. His recommendation was approved unanimously by the board.
Paczkowski reported hearing favorable reviews of the new playground at Lucerne, and Plummer said he’s received compliments also on the fitness equipment out there.
Recreation Director Sheila Wieringa said things were wrapping up on her end. The country concert July 22 had about 7,500 people in attendance. At the Family Carnival Aug. 5, there were 1,290 tickets sold and 552 punch cards, with about 2,500 people in attendance. Then on Aug. 6 at the skate competition at Mantis Skate Park, she said it had six competitors, with one from Logansport and one from South Bend.
Baldwin told Wieringa, “Thanks for the great job you do.”