Originally Published: November 5, 2018 6:52 p.m.
In the patchwork of signs that already adorns the entrances to many Prescott parks, another piece was added recently.
Over the past several weeks, the Prescott Recreation Services Department has implemented the no-smoking ordinance that the Prescott City Council approved this past spring.
Now, among the signs banning glass bottles, off-leash pets, and pets on athletic surfaces, is a new rule that states: “No smoking, vaping or e-cigarettes within 50 feet of park.”
Prescott Recreation Services Director Joe Baynes said the city’s Parks and Recreation Board opted in May against designating smoking areas in select city parks, as had been discussed previously by the City Council.
Among the issues that came up among board members was a concern that the designated smoking areas could create more work for parks staff, as well as a worry that the smoking areas could generate issues with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The minutes from the May 10 meeting state: “There was concern expressed regarding the need for staff to take on more duties with cleaning of smoke dispenser, etc.”
The minutes added: “The consensus of the board was that rather than make more work for staff, signage would allow for ‘self-policing’ to be done by citizen users of the parks.”
Baynes said the board also touched on whether the city would need to cover the smoking areas.
In the end, he said, the board agreed that the “easiest approach” was to ban smoking within 50 feet of the parks.
The City Council approved the smoking ban in city parks, with designated smoking areas, in April. But because the city was under Stage 1 fire restrictions at the time, which already banned smoking in city parks, designation of smoking areas was delayed.
Then, in May, the Parks and Recreation Board weighed in on the implementation of the ban.
Prescott resident Brent Hatch, a vocal advocate for the smoking ban, said this past week that he was “very happy” that the signs had finally gone up at city parks.
“The feedback I’m hearing is that it’s about time,” Hatch said. “It gives us, the people who don’t smoke, a voice.”
Still, users of Granite Creek Park in the week after the signs went up voiced some concern about the lack of a designated smoking area.
“I think smoking should be allowed,” said a man walking with is children in the park, who declined to give his name. “Maybe not everywhere in the park, but 50 feet from the playgrounds – yes.”
Park user Jeff George voiced disappointment that the city had opted against designated smoking areas. “I think most people would be fine with it as long as they put in a designated area,” he said.
Diana Robbins, who said she was temporarily part of the homeless community, added, “They can’t just ban it completely. It’s not going to stop.”
Baynes pointed out that the city hopes park users will voluntarily comply. He added that it was never the intent of the city to heavily enforce the ordinance.
“The council’s intent was not to send a police officer (for violations),” he said. “At the end of the day, we hope people will understand and comply.”
Although Hatch was happy with the city’s implementation of the ban, he said he was disappointed that Yavapai County has yet to impose a similar smoking ban on the county-owned courthouse plaza.