Weekly Feature

2017-07-13 / Front Page

Town may embrace smoke-free parks


Currently, smoking is only prohibited in certain areas of town parks, such as the Cheektowaga Cultural Center in Town Park, but those smoke-free areas might expand.

During Tuesday’s work session, the Cheektowaga Town Council began discussions about retooling the smoking restrictions in the town’s park system, which could prohibit smoking at parks between sunrise and sunset when one or more children younger than 12 years old are present.

The possible policy amendment comes after Erie County sent a letter suggesting the changes.

Board members did stress that the update process was still in its infancy, and they would need more information to continue.

Councilman James P. Rogowski explained the reasoning behind the current policy, which was added to the town code in 2014.

“It was the choice of the Town Board at that time to do it at the Cultural Center and the [Lions Pavilion] because we didn’t want to impede on people’s right,” he said, adding he would support expanding the prohibited areas to places where children congregate, such as playgrounds.

Councilwoman Alice Magierski proposed looking into complete prohibition in the parks, likening it to dog waste policies and saying that leaving certain areas for smoking could muddle enforcement.

“It’s the same as with dogs. Do people pick up after their dogs? No,” she said. “So, if you have designated areas where you say there’s no children and they can smoke, they’re going to smoke anyway. If it’s completely prohibited, we’d have a better handle on enforcing it than designated areas.”

Another point the board would consider is whether a state law already covers changes they might make.

The board took no action on the matter but expected to consult Melissa Reese, deputy town attorney and prosecutor, who helped draft the proposal, and revisit it at the next work session, scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 25.

In other matters, the board solicited bids for an electric car, after confusion about the procurement policy at the June 27 meeting put a stop to a previous purchase.

The town received a bid from Mercedes Benz of Buffalo for a 2014 electric car with 20,833 miles on it. The purchase was made Monday, and the total cost to the town was $5,595. Buying the electric car was one of the final requirements for a Clean Energy Community designation through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which could bring Cheektowaga a $250,000 grant.

Cheektowaga, which is competing with other large municipalities for the one remaining quarter-million dollar grant, still needs to demonstrate another 2.5 percent of energy savings from previous projects to complete requirements for the designation.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 25. A work session at 5 p.m. will precede the regular meeting. Both will be held at Town Hall, 3301 Broadway.

email: bjackson@beenews.com

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