Ypsi City Council approves legislation for smoke-free tot lots

A request for legislation for smoke-free tot lots was presented and approved at the Ypsilanti City Council meeting Oct. 21. A public hearing was held, but no one was present to speak on the issue.

The City Parks and Recreation Commission has recommended that the current ordinance be amended to prohibit smoking in the city’s three playgrounds: Edith Hefley Tot Lot, Charles Street Tot Lot and Carrie Mattingly Tot Lot.

The Commission has stated that such an ordinance would discourage youth smoking, avoid secondhand smoke hazards and promote the overall well-being and health of children and families.

“There are over 40 parks in the state of Michigan that now have smoke-free [park] policies,” DaBorah Borden, service coordinator for Washtenaw County’s Tobacco Reduction Coalition said. “You might not know, but cigarette butts are the number one pollution [for parks].”

Borden said that the cigarette butts are made from material like plastic fibers with toxins that seep into the ground, and can be a hazard for small children who may put them in their mouths and for animals that may eat them.

“We started a discussion about this a couple of years ago,” Bob Krewinski, member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, said. “I talked [to council] last winter about putting the smoking ban, potentially, in all city parks. The sentiment I got was that maybe that wouldn’t be possible at this time, but there was general support to make children’s playgrounds smoke free.”

Since the Michigan smoking ban went into effect May 1, 2010, individual cities have been implementing policies for cleaner air.

The Washtenaw County Public Health Department is encouraging communities to adopt municipal directives after the Village of Dexter enacted an ordinance for smoke-free parks in 2012.

Other City Council news included the approval of Resolution No. 2014-240, to support a mid-block crossing at Hawk Street and Washtenaw Avenue in front of Eastern Michigan University, as part of the Reimagine Washtenaw plan.

The plan for enhancement of the crossing includes a pedestrian activated signal and enhanced median.

“There isn’t a clear and safe pedestrian crossing,” Teresa Gillotti, director of Community and Economic Development, said. “We did have a pedestrian fatality a couple of years ago at that basic location. We know that it is an area that is unsafe.”

The cost is estimated to be $167,000. The Michigan Department of Transportation is asking that partners of the project, EMU, The Ride and the City of Ypsilanti contribute 20 percent of the cost, which is about $40,000.

EMU has committed $15,000 to the project, according to Gillotti.

A request has been made to The Ride for $15,000, and to the City for $10,000 but neither of those commitments has yet been made.

The council also approved:

  • Resolution No. 2014-237, approving the Washtenaw Avenue Corridor Transportation
  • Resolution No. 2014-238, approving the appointment of Erika Lindsay to Boards and Commissions
  • Resolution No 2014-239, approving the PA 198 Industrial Facilities Tax Abatement
  • Resolution No. 2014-241, approving the Memorandum of Understanding between Washtenaw Community College and the City of Ypsilanti regarding Parkridge Center

For a complete reading of the meeting minutes and resolutions, please visit cityofypsilanti.com.

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