Staff Photo: John Bohn
Taylor Park in downtown Duluth will soon feature signs proclaiming the area to be smoke free.
DULUTH — Resident Jerry Robb doesn’t smoke, dip or chew, but he thinks the city’s recent decision to designate parks as tobacco free is “ridiculous.”
“It’s a little too much government in our lives,” Robb said. “Where do you draw the line? If it’s that bad for you, then they just ought to make smoking illegal and be done with it.”
Robb reacted Tuesday to news from Monday’s city council meeting in which the city’s park director presented signs that would go up in all parks and facilities saying, “Young Lungs at Play.” The signs designate that all city parks and buildings in Duluth are tobacco free. While other cities have smoke-free parks, Duluth is the first city in Gwinnett County to include all tobacco products.
Kathy Marelle, the city’s parks director, said the municipality aims to “provide a quality atmosphere for our young people and senior adults. Our goal is to provide pristine facilities and quality programs to these groups, and this goes a long way in helping us achieve that.”
Robb said he understands that using tobacco “can influence children, but I grew up in the 50s, and I was always around smoke. We all made it.”
Added Robb: “It’s just getting out of hand. While they’re at it, they ought to ban sugar in parks. That’s bad for you. And keep cars away from parks because of the exhaust.”
Gwinnett County Commissioner Shirley Lasseter, whose district includes Duluth, agreed with Robb.
“I am a smoker, and I think most smokers can be courteous,” Lasseter said. “I think if they would just provide an area at the park for tobacco it would be a better solution.”
Added Lasseter: “Government always likes to tell us what we can and cannot do, and I don’t think we have the right to give or take away someone’s personal business if what they’re doing is legal.”
“I’m just wondering what the thinking is on this one,” Lasseter said.
Marelle said she takes great pride in the fact that Duluth is the first city in the county to make their parks tobacco free, but gave credit to the mayor and city council for giving their full support to the program.
Other items discussed at the city council meeting include:
The Red Clay Theatre roof replacement received six bids, four of which met the planning committees approval. Of the four bids, the committee looked at the two lowest bids, with both having exceptional reviews. However, the lowest bid specialized in residential repairs. The recommendation went instead to the second-lowest bidder, Ideal Building Solutions, which was awarded the bid not to exceed $30,000.
The city council passed a motion to include 22 events to be sponsored or co-sponsored by the city, which waives food vendors from having to get food permits. The list of 22 also includes 13 events where alcohol will be permitted. Concern was raised over sponsoring some events where alcohol was included in what should be a family-friendly environment, but the measure passed. It was also brought up to include Flicks on the Bricks events to be allowed to have alcohol, but the motion was not seconded to be able to move onto a vote.
Duluth High School’s Navy JROTC led the Pledge of Allegiance, but it was also announced the group will have its annual Area Management Inspection on March 27, which will include review of administration procedures, cadets, how things are run in the unit, and pass and review ceremony, one of the military’s long-held traditions.