By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

A long-simmering discussion of whether to ban smoking in Keizer parks was sidelined again at the Keizer Parks Advisory Board meeting  on Tuesday, Dec. 12.

In October, Darrell Richardson a longtime neighbor of Sunset Park in west Keizer requested that the parks board take another look into banning smoking in Keizer parks.

Richardson’s wife experiences allergy flare ups when smoke from the park wafts across their property. Richardson requested an outright ban, but the parks board settled on a recommendation to establish smoking areas in Keizer parks where space was available.

The recommendation was kicked back to the parks board by the city council which opted not to adopt it.

During the board discussions last week, member Jim Taylor moved to limit smoking to established parking areas. However, that solution didn’t pass muster with member Dylan Juran.

“That is not going to resolve the reason we started talking about it,” Juran said, alluding to Richardson’s request.

Not only does Sunset Park lack a dedicated parking lot, but the entrance to the park abuts Richardson’s property, which means smoking in the parking area would continue to affect Richardson’s wife. Even without a limits on smoking areas, the move wouldn’t likely have much impact because the entrance to the park is in the public right-of-way.

Taylor said it was a halfway measure that would solve some smoking issues and prevent fire hazards, but the motion  died for lack of a second.

Member Scott Klug suggested looking at each park individually instead of a one-size-fits-all policy, but that met with resistance from Juran and board member Matt Lawyer.

“It boils down to enforcement. If someone is smoking in a prohibited area, what are you going to do about it?” Lawyer said.

Taylor cited smoking bans in all Marion County and Salem parks as one reason for moving forward with something on the issue in Keizer.

When asked for his take on smoking in the parks, Parks Supervisor Robert Johnson expected the response to be akin to trying to enforce leash laws for dogs.

“Some people see me coming and put the dog on the leash and some want the confrontation. I see this going the same route as the leash laws. People don’t respect us and it’s not worth calling the police over,” Johnson said.

Taylor tried again with a motion to ban smoking from July through September. While he got a second, the vote was 7-1 opposed.

A third motion by Taylor to outright ban smoking in Keizer parks died for lack of a second.

“Doing it because everyone else is doing is a bad reason,” said Juran. “No one has ever come forward and said this is the reason why (Salem and Marion County) banned it.”

The parks board adjourned the meeting without a recommendation to send to the city council, but Taylor planned to speak with representatives of the Salem and Marion County parks to determine why their bans were enacted and report back to the Keizer Parks Board in January.