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Glenwood Council to take a closer look at downtown smoking ordinance

A smoker lights up.
Kyle Mills / Post Independent
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The Glenwood Springs Police Department has recommended “fairly significant changes” to the city’s smoking ordinance and will present them Thursday to City Council.

Currently, the city’s municipal code bans smoking in the downtown area, which largely follows the Downtown Development Authority boundary that includes the downtown core areas north and south of the Colorado River, east to Blake Avenue and west to Pitkin Avenue.

The ordinance bans smoking in public places, such as sidewalks, alleys and parks, between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.

NEW PROPOSED BOUNDARY

“We were trying to condense,” Glenwood Springs Chief of Police Terry Wilson said of the proposed smoking boundary. “Make it a little straighter, easier to understand and still incorporate the heaviest-used pedestrian areas for the city.”

South of the Colorado River, the boundary would begin at Ninth Street and run to Seventh. To the west, it would stretch to Colorado Avenue and to the east, Cooper.

However, along West Eighth Street the smoking ban would widen to Defiance Avenue to include the areas surrounding City Hall, as well as areas outside the Garfield County Courthouse, jail and County Administration building.

Additionally, the proposed ban would include the pedestrian bridge to Sixth Street and up U.S. 6 to West First Street.

The prohibition of smoking on city parklands as well as on bicycle and pedestrian pathways would remain intact.

DESIGNATED SMOKING AREA

According to a City Council staff report, “The idea has been kicked around to make the ban on smoking downtown 24 hours rather than the current times.”

Although such an idea has not come to fruition, if an around-the-clock smoking ban was adopted, Council may also approve a designated smoking area.

The report stated that downtown business employees often smoked in alleys and that “possibly making a small area of the ‘Bethel Lot’ a smoking-allowed area may make sense.”

“That’s one option,” Wilson explained of the lot just east of the Grand Avenue Bridge landing, near the cross alley between Grand and Cooper.

ASHTRAYS & PENALTIES

Although one may smoke outside after 10 p.m. and before 5 a.m. under the current ordinance, the report took issue with businesses in the downtown area that put out cans or other ashtray devices, suggesting it created “an appearance of acceptance for smoking that conflicts with the ordinance.”

Additionally, the police department has recommended changing the penalty for violating the smoking ordinance from that of a summoned court appearance to a penalty assessment model, akin to the city’s wildlife trash ordinance.

“It is a summons into court currently and that can be a headache for [the offender] and for the courts,” Wilson said. “We feel after having a little experience with it now, that it is an appropriate ordinance to have as a pay by mail fine option.”

First-time offenders would get fined $50, a second-time offender $100, and third and subsequent offenses, $200.

Wilson explained how tourists often do not know about the smoking ban and hoped to put up more signage, as many were taken down during the Grand Avenue Bridge and Seventh Street construction projects.

“We can create a higher expectation that people are seeing the warnings and being advised, because it is a specialized, local thing,” Wilson said of the ordinance.

City Council will pick up the discussion at a work session Thursday afternoon, as well as during its evening meeting when public comment can be taken.

mabennett@postindependent.com


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