Fruita rejects smoking ban in city parks

The Fruita City Council rejected an ordinance that would have banned smoking in city parks, with Mayor Ken Henry casting the deciding vote for a divided council.

“This thing goes too far,” Henry said in voting “no” Tuesday night. While finding “legitimate health considerations” in a ban and saying the issue likely will come before council again, Henry expressed concern that proponents didn’t show up Tuesday night.

“In the future, I would hope the people concerned about smoking would come talk to us,” Henry said.

Henry joined council members Mel Mulder, Lori Buck and Bruce Bonar in opposition. Council members Stacey Mascarenas, Terry Moss and Bob Fuller voted for the ban.

The idea originally was brought to the council by Henry in response to smoking during Little League games at Little Salt Wash Park. The proposed ordinance would have made it illegal for anyone to smoke a cigarette, cigar, pipe or medical marijuana at any city-owned park. The proposal, though, would have exempted city-owned Snooks Bottom and Kings View Open Space parks, parks maintained by homeowners’ associations and all trails.

Violators would have been hit with potential municipal fines of up to $100.

Council members voted after roughly an hour of public testimony, most of it in opposition to the ban. Four residents who addressed the council — two of them identified themselves as nonsmokers — suggested the measure was too broad.

Henry previously championed the issue after leaders with a local Little League group complained about people smoking near the bleachers, but they felt powerless to stop it.

“What, then, is the urgency to do a blanket ban (of smoking) on all parks?” Jerry Mack asked council members.

Stan Cliff warned the council about a “slippery slope” in response to incidents he called “isolated.”

“If this was so important to so many people, where are they tonight?” Cliff said.

Nobody addressed the council in favor of the ban.

Bonar said he would support banning smoking at “organized events,” although nobody specified how they would be defined. As written Tuesday, the ordinance overreached, he said.

“If a person is alone, smoking in a park, by this ordinance that’s still breaking the law,” Bonar said. “And that person is impacting nobody.”

Moss, however, said smoking in city parks stands in contrast to Fruita’s outdoor, healthy image. He urged colleagues not to shy away from protecting children, making several references to complaints received from Little League organizers.

“Second- and third-grade kids were telling us the smoke was getting bad,” Moss said. “We couldn’t do anything about it, and that was frustrating.”



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