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Commission approves write-up of non-smoking ordinance for Marquette city parks, public beaches

(Journal stock image)

MARQUETTE — Due to the negative effects smoking causes, from litter to second-hand smoke, the city of Marquette is looking at crafting a non-smoking ban for public beaches and city parks.

During Monday’s Marquette City Commission meeting, Commissioner Pete Frazier made the motion to direct the city attorney to create a draft ordinance to prohibit smoking on Marquette’s public bathing beaches and all city parks for the consideration of the Marquette City Commission with Commissioner Paul Schloegel seconding the motion. The commission voted 7-0, moving forward with the ordinance.

“I think it’s a great idea. Presque Isle is one thing because there’s so many (trees in the) woods for the fire department to get around and fight fires,” Frazier said, adding that this ordinance is important to eliminate second-hand smoke for children playing at the parks.

On July 20, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board addressed the issue of smoking at public beaches and city parks, unanimously agreeing to move forward with the Marquette City Commission to create a new ordinance or amend existing ordinances to prohibit smoking within those city public spaces. Littering of cigarette butts along the Lake Superior shoreline was the main push along with the harmful impacts of second-hand smoke, according to a city agenda document.

“Many Michigan communities ban smoking in public parks and bathing beaches, in part due to the fact there are often children playing there who may unwillingly come in contact with second-hand smoke,” the city agenda document states.

This issue was visited by the commission a few years ago and action was taken to ban smoking on Presque Isle, though no ordinance was created nor changed at that time. Enforcement appears to be the real issue, commissioner Sally Davis said, explaining that cigarette butts are trash and there’s already an ordinance prohibiting people from littering.

As one of the community volunteers who picks up cigarette butts on the beaches, Davis said it’s important to back this ordinance up with education and have “non-discriminatory and consistent enforcement.”

“Smoking debris on our beaches is a big issue and I’m really in favor of getting rid of all this toxic trash. Filters take up to 10 years to decompose and they contain plastic that remains in our environment,” Davis said. “… I don’t believe an ordinance, alone, will solve this problem. Although I’d love to solve the problem. We need to build a culture of non-tolerance of smoking litter and of second-hand smoke. (However), I will support this motion only because of its potential to become part of a more comprehensive solution. Education, trash receptacles, enforcement, the numbering and messaging of signage all need to come together so we don’t just have another ordinance on the books that becomes silent in future years.”

Schloegel said that self-policing is required to implement this cultural change.

“This has been a hot button for a long time and I really feel that we need to start this conversation and put it (at the) forefront because one of the exciting things is that you’re seeing a lot less people smoking — at least that’s my personal opinion. I’ve been a nonsmoker for seven years and to be a little bit of a hypocrite here, I think it’s one of the most defensive things that I have ever done,” he said. “I’m embarrassed when I think back to the impact that I had on the people around me. When I was smoking in public, (I wasn’t) taking other people’s space into consideration.”

The immense amount of litter smoking presents to the community should be a concern for everyone, Schloegel added.

Up next, the city attorney will draft the ordinance, which will then be presented to the commission with a public hearing.

The Marquette City Commission also approved five bike murals during the meeting and authorized the Marquette Public Art Commission to advance with their projects. Each mural painting will consist of a message: Founders Landing, REMEMBER; between Picnic Rock and McCarty’s Cove: RESPECT; Lower Harbor, DREAM; Marquette Commons, GRATITUDE and Clark Lambros Park Area, HOPE. The MPAC and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board both agreed each location will include a word that suits the location’s history and current events.

The total costs for the murals is $3,300 and is part of the fiscal year 2020 public art budget. The project is anticipated for late August; this is a temporary art installation and would be removed in September 2021.

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