Borough commission postpones smoke free parks decision

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska. (KTVF) The Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks and Recreation Commission met on Monday for their latest meeting. One of the topics they discussed was which parks within the borough should be smoke free, if any.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks and Recreation Commission met on Monday at the conference room in the Big Dipper Ice Arena. (Sara Tewksbury/KTVF)

In January, a new section was added into the borough's code allowing the FNSB to prohibit smoking in parks. The decision of which parks this should apply to went to the Parks and recreation commission.

The meeting was open to public comment but no one from the public appeared to give testimony. The commission says they received many comments online and through the Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks & Rec Facebook page. Most of these comments echoed that all of the parks should be smoke free.

Most of the members present at the meeting agreed that parks, where children commonly play, should be smoke and tobacco free. However, one member, Judith Shiffler, brought up the question about what they are referring to specifically. There was confusion over whether they were talking about all parks and recreation facilities, which includes trails, camping spaces and ball fields, or just parks.

"The question was ‘which parks do you think should be smoke free?’ And the majority of them said all," said Shiffler.

She said that if they were going to make it applicable to all facilities and trails, the question might have been misleading.

There was lots of discussion over how to phrase the language to clarify what they want to prevent and where they want to enforce it. Then the matter went to a vote, and five out of the six members present voted for it, with one voting against.

"It is a public arena, and unfortunately part of that public is smokers... and banning the smoking in all of our parks and recreational facilities -- and yes it's for the greater good and I'm supportive of a better life style -- but I don't necessarily think the government should legislate it," said Andrew Culley, a member on the commission.

Due to the number of members on the commission, this was not enough to pass the motion. They plan to revisit the issue at their next meeting.

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