VAN BUREN (KFSM) -- City leaders in Fort Smith banned smoking in city parks a few weeks ago, and now another city in the River Valley is trying to follow suit.
Right now, the City of Van Buren doesn’t have a law that prohibits people from smoking in their six city parks. The Van Buren Parks and Recreation Commission will be gathering on Monday evening (March 13) to discuss whether or not smoking should be banned from parks throughout the city.
A couple of reasons why leaders want to ban smoking is because it’s a health hazard for children and other park patrons with secondhand smoke, and the cigarette butts can also cause a lot of litter.
The Parks Commission will be looking over research and regulations, enforcement, and whether or not to include all city parks if they want to move forward. City leaders will also listen to both supporters and non-supporters of the proposal at the meeting.
“There’s some that say it’s open air and it’s a lot different from a restaurant because it’s outside in the open,” said Planning Director Joseph Hurst. “Then you hear others saying I won’t bring my kid to a park because of smoking in the area.” According to Hurst, “We’ve heard both sides and I expect to hear from both sides as we continue.”
This topic is especially raising concerns because of the new expansion of Veterans Park called Freedom Place which opens later this spring.
“Now is a good time for our Parks Commission to actually have these formal discussions and maybe eventually it will go to city council for action,” said Hurst.
City leaders said no formal action will be taken during Monday night's meeting. This will be a chance to hear opinions and concerns from the Parks Commission and also from the public.
Other topics to be discussed at the meeting are recent trails, bike safety on roadways and Freedom Place’s groundbreaking.
The meeting will take place at the Municipal Complex in Van Buren starting at 5:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome.