Clear Lake smoking

The Clear Lake City Council may soon consider an ordinance that would ban smoking in public parks and beaches.  

CLEAR LAKE | A proposed smoking ban in parks and beaches in Clear Lake has garnered considerable support since it was introduced to city council members by city administrator Scott Flory last week.

Multiple residents who spoke with the Globe Gazette Tuesday afternoon supported the ban, citing health issues with second-hand smoke and the litter smokers leave behind.

"Personally I am because there are a lot of kids that are exposed to [second-hand-smoke]," said Aimee Medellin, 22, of Clear Lake. Medellin was playing with her 2-year-old son Xander at Pine Tree Park.

Richard Bell, 85, is another Clear Lake resident who supports the ban. He said town is a nice vacation spot and that cleaning up the beaches and parks would benefit the town. 

Tracy Teter of Mason City agrees — especially considering the amount of cigarette butts she has seen throughout Clear Lake.

"In public places ... you notice a lot more [cigarette butts] outside because [smokers] can't do it inside," said Teter, 47.

Thus far, such a ban is only in the preliminary stages. Council members unanimously voted at its meeting Aug. 21 to allow Flory to start drafting an ordinance with city officials.

"The city's parks and recreation advisory board discussed the topic at their last board meeting," Flory wrote in an email. "They have made a suggestion that city Council consider implementing a no smoking policy for city parks and recreation facilities under operation and management by the city. City staff is currently working on a draft of a proposal. It will be discussed more at the next council meeting."

Second Ward Councilman Tony Nelson said he has heard support for a smoking ban from people around town. He added that given the number of activities the city and its citizens organize in public spaces, such a ban would make sense.

Nelson also said the ban would follow a trend among other locations in Iowa. 

"I think we're just following suit of state law," he said. "Other than that, I just would say I'm for it."

One individual who opposes the ban is Nancy Cornelius, 65, of Garner. She said she has always been respectful in parks and public places when people are bothered by her smoke.

"If I'm sitting at a picnic table, and someone asks me to move ... I would excuse myself and walk away," Cornelius said. "They should not ban parks ... You're outside, if you don't like my smoke, move."

The City of Clear Lake gauged interest in the proposal on its Facebook page last Thursday, by asking whether its citizens would support a smoking ban on "parks, beach, trails, and other outdoor recreational City-owned property."

The reaction was mostly positive, as people commented that a ban would increase tourism and clean up the city's parks and beaches.

The public is invited to discuss the proposal at Clear Lake's next city council meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 4 at City Hall.

Contact Steve at 641-421-0527 or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.

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