Mandan News

City parks could go smoke-free

By Brian L. Gray

 

A new ordinance could go into effect, banning tobacco use on all city parks.

The Mandan Park District is considering a new ordinance that prohibits tobacco use at all parks the district manages. The park district is planning to make a decision on this during its next meeting on Monday, May 13.

The request to ban tobacco from city parks came from GO Bismarck-Mandan, which is looking to use grant money it received to place signage in the city’s parks enforcing the ordinance.

Before any action is taken, the district is seeking input from the public to voice their opinions on the proposal.

Three cities in North Dakota – Beulah, Grand Forks and Mayville – are the only three cities in the state that have passed similar ordinances. All of them were passed within the last year.

Mandan Parks Director Cole Higlin said putting the ordinance into effect will be a simple matter, but enforcing it will be a different story.

“It will be difficult to enforce this. We can’t monitor all of our property for those who choose to chew or smoke at the parks.”

Regardless, Higlin said he supports this proposed ordinance. “We try to prevent tobacco use at our facilities, and I’m a promoter of this. I would like to see the park district be a supporter of this,” Higlin said.

Alicia Uhde, with GO Bismarck-Mandan, said it will be up to nearby residents of the parks to report any tobacco use. “These areas are heavily utilized by children. This is about setting a norm, and it’s adults you’re dealing with, so it’s just a matter of getting adults to respect the rule,” Uhde said.

The matter was brought forward to the park district during its April meeting. No action was taken in order to hear the wishes of the community.

“I think we need to serve all citizens in Mandan, and there hasn’t been an opportunity for others to make their case,” said park commissioner Tracy Porter. “As public servants we need to serve the public, and that includes smokers who may be unhappy with this.”

Parks Manager Mike Zerr said most people already keep tobacco use away from areas where children are present, so this proposed ordinance is not much of an issue. He said locations like Dacotah Centennial Park, where rodeos and car races are held, could have designated areas where smokers can go. “It’s always those few people who smoke in the stands, and we have to tell them to put it out, but 99 percent of the time there isn’t a problem,” Zerr said.

This proposed smoke-free ordinance will also go to the Bismarck Park District in May.