Whitewater Considers Request for Smoking Ordinance

By Danielle Kronau / The Capstone

On Feb. 2, the Whitewater Common Council discussed placing a smoking ordinance in the upcoming future to create a safer environment in parks.

Council member Matthew Schulgit requested a smoking ordinance be implemented in city parks to ensure the health and safety of those most vulnerable. The common council was concerned over the ordinance’s enforceability and impact on the citizens.

“To say it’s not enforceable is not necessarily a hundred percent accurate just because we have other ordinances in there that we can and do enforce as well,” said Council member Patrick Singer.

The council viewed the ordinance as another “government overreach,” declaring this as not the best time for such an ordinance due to climate and government. Additionally, there is concern over grabbing the public’s attention without losing the welcoming atmosphere. 

Whitewater Student Government’s director of intergovernmental affairs, Will Hinz, called attention to how important inclusivity to smoking is as it is veterans’ way of coping. This is one of the reasons they do not have a no-smoking rule on campus.

“…To really be inclusive of their experience is the reason why student government has really been against this. So I just wanted to give that a context. But I appreciate the discussion on this,” said Hinz.

According to Council member James Allen, Starin Park is the only park that allows alcohol. Council member Lynn Binnie said Treyton’s Field of Dreams is the only park where smoking is prohibited.

According to Schulgit, smoking affects other people’s health when children breathe in smoke residues that are blown onto surfaces such as playground equipment.

“I would echo many of the comments that have been made. I particularly understand the concern regarding children’s playgrounds,” said Binnie, “That, to me, would be the primary area that we would consider addressing.”

City Manager Cameron Clapper briefly mentioned on Tuesday that Bird Rides Inc. was authorizing city of Whitewater electric scooter rentals. However, he requested the item be pulled from the meeting because internal discussion is much needed before the topic is brought forth to the public.

Bird Scooters Report:

“So, I did not convene with the council president prior to request that it be pulled, but at this point there’s an established requesting no action or discussion tonight and we’ll bring it back at a future meeting,” said Clapper.

According to the agenda, a Bird Scooter representative approached the city staff members regarding Bird’s interest in providing stand-up electric scooters.

The city of Whitewater is the only place where the scooters would be used. Bird would provide at least 100 scooters for the public’s use but existing state and local regulations would have to govern them.

Bird’s business model draws revenue from users’ paid rental fees. Bird would not charge the city of Whitewater for the program or give the city revenues for allowing the company to operate in Whitewater.

In addition, Bird will provide at least one employee to regularly collect and redistribute scooters daily at specific, approved locations. If the common council agrees to the stand-up electric scooters, this could mean another commuting option for University of Wisconsin-Whitewater students and other citizens.

  • Finance Director Steve Hatton said Tax Incremental District (TID) four’s 2010 bond, will have enough fund balance and current year revenue for early maturity. By doing so, the city will have over $60,000 in interest, allowing the city to make other changes with their TIDs. Early maturity of this bond will be the last of the outstanding debt related to TIDs in Whitewater.
  • President of the whitewater area chamber of commerce board of directors, Kristen Burton, said COVID increased accessibility through Whitewater Arts Alliance YouTube channel and links to their website, despite visitor and hours limits. Though workshops were cancelled, they are being rescheduled for this summer in hopes to make them livestream as well for more accessibility.
  • Clapper thanked streets crews for their hard work and said salt brine keeps the snow down, reduces amount of shoveling and salt usage.

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