Abbeville city council looks at banning smoking in ball parks

The Abbeville City Council is considering an ordinance banning smoking in all City-owned ballparks, pending a vote at the next council meeting scheduled Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009. The ban was proposed by the Parks and Recreation board, who are pushing for the City’s approval of the ordinance.

The proposed smoking ban amends section 13:48 of the municipal ordinances, adding the following paragraph, which pertains to smoking within the enclosed fence of all ball fields in any City-owned park:

“All ballparks located in any park owned by the City are hereby designated as Smoke-Free Facilities. As such, no one may smoke any tobacco product inside the ballpark. For these purposes, ‘ballpark’ shall include the entire area within the exterior fences of the facility, including, but not limited to, the playing field, the grandstand, concession areas, and all walkways contained therein. There are, hereby created, ‘Smoking Permitted Zones’ outside the exterior fences of the ballparks as designated by the Recreation Board.”

At a committee meeting preceding Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, the Council expressed a few areas of concern about the proposed ordinance, including Councilman Francis Touchet, who addressed the issue of Theriot Field, which does not have the same perimeter fencing as the other ballparks located within the vicinity of A.A. Comeaux Park.

“The particular part I’m concerned with is where Theriot Field is, and it opens up to the football field, there is no fencing,” Touchet said. “Where the concession stand that takes place between the two fields, there’s no fencing whatsoever. Are they going to have to go outside those particular fences? Because, actually, it’s not like a regular baseball field; that’s more like a complex. There used to be a fence, they tore down that fence, and now it flows into the football field. Abbeville High’s about to start playing, we need to make sure that we have it understood exactly what we’re looking at,” Touchet explained.

Kelly Mire spoke to the council on behalf of the Parks and Recreation Board and said “the fence is the fence.” He explained that the ticket booth for Theriot Field, which is located in the parking lot of the Vermilion Youth building, will serve as the last ‘Smoking Permitted Zone’ before entering the perimeter of Theriot Field, which is proposed to be Smoke-Free. He said smokers will have to stand outside of the ticket booth area to smoke.

Not all Councilmen were weary of the new ban; Councilman-at-Large Francis Plaisance said the proposed ban is not as far a stretch as other ordinances in the Country.

“Well, Mayor and Council, at least they can smoke somewhere,” Plaisance said. “Last week, in Bellmont, California, by a vote of 3 to 2, the City Council banned smoking in private homes. That’s going to be a challenge to the Constitution, because of second-hand smoke; 46,000 people in this country died last year because of second-hand smoke. So it’s a landmark decision that’s gonna be eventually tested by the Supreme Court, I’m sure, but at least we didn’t go that far, right?”

The council voted all in favor of bringing the proposed ordinance up for a vote at the next council meeting. The public is invited to express their opinions on this proposed ordinance.

In addition to discussing the proposed smoking ban, the Council addressed several City projects including authorizing Liz Girouard to begin the bid process for the Statewide Seal Coat Program at Chris Crusta Memorial Airport; the recommendation to follow through with scheduled deadlines pertaining to the removal or demolition of blighted property and junked vehicles in the City; the approval to abandon the alleyway in the Sokoloski Subdivision, Block 105; and tabled the approval of a Class B liquor permit for Nolan’s Grocery until proper legal documents are in order.

In an executive meeting, the Council decided to terminate Fire Deputy John Huntsberry, who exhausted 365 days of sick leave for the year. Fire Chief Elvin Michaud said Huntsberry was not terminated because he wasn’t a good employee, but because he used 365 allowed sick days in one year, and has not received medical clearance to return to his position at the Abbeville Fire Department.

In other news, Chief Michaud announced that Fire Sub Station No. 2 is finalizing repairs and firemen assigned to the station will be able to return Friday.

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