Should smoking be allowed in Geneseo parks?

Lisa Depies
Parents have complained about people smoking near the playground at the Geneseo City Park, which has resulted in the city council considering a smoking ban in city parks. Residents are asked to share their input.

Should smokers be allowed to light up in city parks? That’s the burning question facing the Geneseo city council.

City administrator Lisa Kotter said she’s received phone calls, primarily from parents, upset that individuals smoke near the playground at the city park.

No ordinance currently prohibits smoking in the park, and aldermen are unsure if that should change.

“I worry about over regulating,” said alderman Martin Rothschild, who also added he felt that smoke shouldn’t be permitted near places where there are children.

Alderman Sean Johnson said the issue came down to respect. “If people aren’t respectful to each other, what do we do?”

A potential ban on smoking could include all or parts of the city-owned parks, which include the main downtown city park, Richmond Hill Park, Lodge Park, Champion Park and Prairie Park.

A ban would be created via city ordinance and offenders could face citations.

Alderman Craig Arnold asked if the ordinance would also include e-cigarettes, and Kotter said it could be written to include “all ways to use nicotine.”

However, before any decision is made, alderman would like citizen input.

“We want to hear the public comments,” said Rothschild.

“It may be, ‘Really, I can’t smoke?’ or ‘Thank you for banning smoking,’” said Kotter.

The council plans to again discuss the issue at the Tuesday, May 22 committee of the whole meeting. Any citizen with comments regarding a potential ban is asked to contact city hall or speak with an alderman.