November 14, 2012

Augusta City Council to consider bus-stop smoking ban

Adult smoking around children with health issues prompts proposal to add stops to list of city areas where smoking is banned

By Keith Edwards kedwards@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- An incident involving an adult smoking at a school bus stop used by children with health problems has prompted the city to consider extending a ban on smoking to include school bus stops.

City councilors will consider the first of two readings of the proposal at their meeting Thursday, which starts at 7 in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

Parents of the students told city officials they asked the adult to stop smoking at the bus stop, but the smoker refused.

So city councilors tonight will consider a proposal to amend a "no smoking" ordinance enacted in January to include bus stops. The ordinance already bans smoking and all other forms of tobacco use at city parks, playgrounds, athletic fields, schools and most other city and school properties.

The proposal is to expand the ban on tobacco use to within 20 feet of designated school bus stops in the city.

City Councilor Dan Emery proposed the change after receiving an email from the parents of two youths affected by a smoking adult, who is apparently a parent of another student who uses the same bus stop. One student has asthma, the other cystic fibrosis; and both, their parents said, suffer when in the presence of someone smoking.

"I don't know if they understood the health implications," Emery said of the smoking adult. "It's a life-or-death situation for the children."

Councilors also are scheduled to:

* consider asking the Augusta state legislative delegation to initiate an act to re-authorize the Augusta Parking District.

City Manager William Bridgeo said the district's charter has a provision he recently came across indicating that when the district pays off all its outstanding debt, it will cease to exist and all its assets would transfer to the city. Bridgeo said the district amortized the last of its debt in July 2011. He said he thinks the district, which owns some downtown parking lots and oversees parking rules in the downtown, does a good job and should continue.

* consider certifying the results of the Nov. 6 municipal elections;

* consider adding retail stores as a conditional use in the Resource Development District on Mount Vernon Avenue;

* consider changing the name of the Cable Television and Telecommunications Committee to the Strategic Communications Committee; and

* consider the following bids for city-owned properties: $1,000 for 4 York St.; $1,000 for 6 Morton Place; $813 for 375 Buck and Doe Trail; and $7,000 for 46 Stone St.

Keith Edwards -- 621-5647
kedwards@centralmaine.com

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