Try 3 months for $3
Spring at last?

Jim Barbian enjoys a stroll Thursday on the Baraboo Riverwalk, where temperatures over 50 melted snow and created vast puddles. The Baraboo Common Council voted Tuesday to ban smoking and vaping along the Riverwalk and in city parks.

Baraboo will ban smoking and vaping — but not smokeless tobacco — from city parks.

The city also will pursue grant funding to pay for Lake Street repairs.

On Tuesday the Common Council voted 6-1 to ban smoking and vaping, but allow the use of smokeless tobacco, in parks and on the Baraboo Riverwalk. During a first reading of proposed changes to park rules last month, the council voted to ban all tobacco use. But council member Scott Sloan moved to allow smokeless tobacco, also known as chewing tobacco, because it doesn’t affect other park users.

“Smoke enters other people’s personal space,” he said.

Plus, detecting smokeless tobacco would be difficult, creating enforcement challenges. The city already outlaws spitting.

Council member Heather Kierzek proposed returning the change to the Parks Commission for further review.

“I’m concerned about the ability to enforce the amendment equitably across the community,” Kierzek said.

Her motion to return the proposed ordinance change to committee failed 2-5, with only her and council member Dennis Thurow voting for it.

The Parks Commission had recommended banning smoking at the Ochsner Park Zoo, but Sloan recommended expanding the restriction, saying human health should be just as important as animal health.

“I don’t feel smoking is anyone’s right,” he said.

The council also granted final approval, by unanimous vote, to rules for alcohol consumption in parks. Alcohol now will be outlawed at several parks (Campbell Park, Hackett Hollow Conservancy, Nanny Park, the Riverwalk and the dog park). Beer and wine consumption will be allowed at other city parks. City leaders wanted to crack down on problem drinking at some parks without preventing residents from enjoying adult beverages at family reunions.

Lake Street

Also Tuesday, the council voted 7-0 to pursue grant funding to make long-awaited repairs to pockmarked Lake Street on the south side.

Accessing about $800,000 from a state revolving loan fund for infrastructure work required the city declaring the 82-home neighborhood blighted through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“Those are HUD’s terms, not ours,” City Engineer Tom Pinion said.

Affected residents initially questioned the designation, fearing it might hurt property values. The homes lie along Lake between Maple Street and Inverness Terrace Court. Pinion said a neighborhood meeting held this week alleviated such concerns.

“That went a long way to dispel those myths that were circulating,” he said.

City leaders said the imminent closing of a state Community Development Block Grant program, in which the city had $800,000 tied up in a revolving loan fund, presented an opportunity to secure aid. The state would give the city that money in grant form.

Follow Ben Bromley on Twitter @ben_bromley or call him at 745-3507.

Baraboo News Republic Senior Reporter

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

We welcome reader interaction. What are your questions about this article? Do you have an idea to share? Please stick to the topic and maintain a respectful attitude toward other participants. (You can help: Use the 'Report' link to let us know of off-topic or offensive posts.)