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Council encourages smokers to refrain in parks

In an effort to cut down smoking in city parks, especially in front of children, the Rosemount City Council on Monday approved a policy prohibiting smoking during youth events. The policy, which passed through the council as part of the consent agenda, asks residents to remain tobacco free during organized youth activities in city owned parks or while youth are present.

Parks and recreation director Dan Schultz said the policy is not directed at adult activities such as league softball nights.

In a memo to the council, Schultz wrote that complaints about smoking in city parks are rare. He went onto say that it is unusual to see smoking at youth sporting events. However, at adult activities it is a fairly common occurrence.

The policy will be enforced through voluntary compliance. In other words, the city is asking people to be cognizant of where they smoke and not to do it at youth events. He said neither city officials nor police officers will be out looking for offenders.

The policy is meant to deter smoking to protect the health and welfare of other residents, especially children. The Dakota County Public Health Department and students from Rosemount High School brought the issue to the parks and recreation commission several months ago.

The commission recommended the council ban all tobacco use in city parks but the council chose not to go forward with such a prohibitive policy.

The city will receive signs from public health to post in the parks alerting residents of the policy. In addition city staff will work to educate the public on the risks of smoking.

Saying good-bye

In its last meeting of the year the Rosemount City Council bid farewell to outgoing members Phillip Sterner and Mike Baxter. Sterner won the 37B House of Representative seat and Baxter was appointed a judgeship in LeSueur County. Both men joined the council in 2005.

"I have nothing to say but what an honor it's been," said mayor Bill Droste about working with both men.

Council member Kim Shoe-Corrigan said both men have given valuable time and talent to the city.

"I wish them both well in their new endeavors."

Newly elected council members Jeff Weisensel and Kurt Bills will be sworn in on Jan. 6.

In other business

• The city council passed an ordinance that will help police officers hold responsible those who allow underage drinking on their property. With the new ordinance, police won't have to determine who provided the alcohol just that the host knew that underage drinking was occurring at the residence. Those caught hosting underage drinking parties will be charged with a misdemeanor. Punishment can include up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

• The city council approved an ordinance that will limit the number of licenses to residential solid waste haulers. The ordinance aims to reduce the number of trucks driving through neighborhoods to increase safety for children, decrease the wear on the streets and decrease emissions released by the trucks.

Currently the city licenses nine solid waste haulers who pick up residential refuse in Rosemount. The ordinance changes will make it so that only haulers currently with licenses in the city will be allowed to renew. No new licenses will be granted.