Two attempts to tighten tobacco limits in Mandan’s park system failed Monday. In the end, the Mandan Park Board voted to support keeping several locations where tobacco is already banned by park staff.
The Go! Bismarck Mandan Coalition in April proposed that tobacco use be banned in all playgrounds in the district.
Based on survey results and comments, Parks and Recreation Director Cole Higlin proposed prohibiting tobacco use everywhere but in parking lots and the golf courses on Mandan park property.
“I do not like people to smoke near parks because I like to play and want everyone to be safe,” said 10-year-old Zara Laber, a park user.
Her mother, Shawna Laber, said allowing smoking where children gather is “not positive role modeling for anyone under (age) 18 ... and a fire safety (issue).” She said smokeless tobacco is unsanitary near children.
Jack Jones of the Mandan Softball Association said the adults already police themselves in ball games.
“If golf is left out this, I would appreciate if the softball complex was as well,” he said. “It is against (American Softball Association) rules to smoke while playing. ... Occasionally, there are players between innings and between games that will step out of the dugout, walk down a ways and have a cigarette. In 25 years, I’ve never seen anybody smoke in the bleachers.”
Vice Park Board President Tracy Porter made a motion to ban smoking in parks and shelters, soccer field at Dacotah Centennial and its dog park. The motion died for a lack of a second.
Park board member Kevin Allan made a motion that prohibited tobacco use on all park district properties, except for the golf courses and parking lots.
“Common sense prevails. If it’s not broke don’t fix it,” said Park Board President Jason Arenz. Allan’s motion failed in a 4-1 vote. Allan was the only park board member to vote yes.
Arenz briefly stepped down as president so he could make a motion endorse the parks policy, which now bans tobacco at youth baseball, Dacotah Centennial Park and its seating, Memorial Ballpark and the Raging Rivers. All five park board members approved it.
Park board member Wanda Knoll said she’d like to revisit tobacco policy in four months and see if there is an issue. Higlin said there had been no complaints about current tobacco policy.