Huntersville commissioners ban smoking in parks
by Staff Writer
by Brett Freeman
HUNTERSVILLE – The Town Board of Commissioners voted Monday to ban smoking in public parks, on greenways and at the Aquatic Center, but opted against a tobacco-free policy that also would have banned smokeless tobacco products.
The ordinance first came before the commissioners at their June 4 meeting when they voted to send it back to the parks and recreation department to look into creating designated smoking areas instead of instituting an outright ban. At the meeting Monday, parks Director Michael Jaycocks said creating smoking areas wasn’t a practical solution because of the expense associated with them for things like maintaining ashtrays, making sure such areas were handicap-accessible and because some of the system’s parks are too small to accommodate a smoking area away from children.
Prior to the vote, five residents spoke in favor of the tobacco ban.
The board voted 4-2 against banning all tobacco products, including smokeless (chewing) tobacco, then voted 5-1 in favor of a substitute motion to ban smoking in Huntersville parks.
The reprieve for smokeless tobacco could be short lived, as Jaycocks said that the Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation Department expects to pass a ban on all tobacco products by this fall. Such a ban would extend to most of the parks in Huntersville, which reside on county-owned land. The exceptions would be Abernathy, Greenway, and Holbrook parks and the Farmers Market.
Planning for the DNC
The board also approved two items relating to the Democratic National Convention in September.
The first was an ordinance that bans camping on town property and is aimed at avoiding protests like the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.
The second authorizes Police Chief Phil Potter to execute an agreement with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to provide police officers to help CMPD with security during the convention. Potter said officers will receive specialized equipment such as riot gear, which the department will be able to keep, and the town will be reimbursed for the officers’ time at a much higher rate than the officers are paid. Potter assured the board that the town’s police coverage will not be affected.