MICHIGAN CITY — Smokers will still be allowed to smoke at the beach this summer, as a proposed smoking ban for all city-owned parks was rejected by a vote of 4-3 at last week’s Common Council meeting.
Council President Don Przybylinski, who successfully amended the proposed ordinance at the May 8 meeting to exclude the Michigan City Municipal Golf Course from the ban, said last week he still wouldn’t vote for the ordinance because he doubted its enforceability.
“I believe the intent is good,” he said. “It’s the enforcement issue, and that issue has not been addressed to me. ... I don’t know how it’s going to get enforced if the chief of police says that he can’t do it.”
Przybylinski said Police Chief Mark Swistek attended a council workshop on the ordinance in April, and indicated if it were to pass, it would not be a priority for officers, who would have to witness a person smoking in order to issue a citation.
Councilman Bryant Dabney, who voiced an identical concern in previous meetings, joined Przybylinski in voting against the ban, as did councilmen Sean Fitzpatrick and Gene Simmons.
The proposed ban was introduced by Councilwoman Sharon Carnes last month.
“The enforcement issue, I think, is a red herring,” she said before the vote. “I think most people, when they see a no-smoking sign, abide by that no-smoking sign, just as they abide by stop signs when there’s not police officers around and school zone signs when there’s not police officers around. There was no suggestion ever that we would expect the Michigan City Police to patrol the beaches and arrest people for smoking cigarettes, which – I think – is ludicrous.”
Councilmen Ron Hamilton and Tim Bietry voted in favor of the ordinance with Carnes.
Council members Candice Silvas and Johnny Stimley were unable to attend and did not vote.
In other business:
n The catwalk on the pier at Washington Park will be repaired using $22,000 from the Boyd Development Fund after the council voted unanimously to make the appropriation.
n Bietry introduced an ordinance on first reading that would appropriate $1 million from the Local Option Income Tax Fund to pay for maintenance and repair of city streets and sidewalks. A public hearing on the matter will be held at the June 4 meeting.
n During a public hearing on whether to spend $32,100 on a hot box for pavement patching by Central Services, no one spoke in favor of or against the ordinance, which will be up for vote on June 4.
n Members of the Michigan City Commission for Women will be paid $50 per meeting for attendance beginning in January 2020. The council voted 6-1 to make positions paid appointments. Only Dabney voted against the ordinance, noting he’s concerned paying members of the Commission for Women will set a precedent that all city commission members should be paid for what he believes should be volunteer work.
n The council voted 6-1 to vacate portions of the alley that opens into the parking lot at McDonald’s on East Michigan Boulevard. Only Dabney was opposed, but did not explain why.
n An ordinance that waives permit fees for city departments on city-owned projects was approved unanimously; as was a resolution waiving building and inspection fees related to the city’s Energy Savings Project.
n Nathan Patrick was voted in as the first member of the Michigan City Youth Leadership Commission for a one-year term. Fitzpatrick said he reached out to both high schools for nominations to fill the other position, but has yet to receive applications.
n James “Skip” Strzelecki was reappointed to the Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund Committee; and Roger Potratz was reappointed to the Historic Review Board.
n An ordinance introduced on first reading that would restructure the way MCPD officers are ranked was tabled indefinitely to allow the council to determine how doing so might benefit the city.