O’Fallon City Council Talks Enforcing Smoking Ban, Approves Purchase of All-inclusive Playground Equipment
On Thursday, the council heard plans for enforcing the city's Smoke Free Air Act and took a step closer to building a playground for children of all abilities.
The citywide smoking ban takes effect in a little more a month, but O’Fallon officials have already begun efforts to educate the public and business owners on the requirements.
City Administrator Keith Riesberg briefed the council with an overview on plans to enforce the Smoke Free Air Act at the workshop on Thursday evening.
Riesberg said the city is following the lead of other municipalities that have implemented a ban, and has begun efforts to remind the public that the law has been adopted and spell out the requirements.
O'Fallon businesses and residents were notified that the smoke-free air ordinance takes effect on June 16 by mail and e-newsletter last week. The O’Fallon Chamber of Commerce has also sent information to local businesses.
The city has also set up a website where residents and business owners can read more about requirements and how they can expect the law to be enforced.
“By doing that extensive outreach, what we’ve seen in other communities, is once the ordinance takes effect, there is very little enforcement action required,” the city administrator said.
The city has also set up a phone number to report violations. Residents with complaints can call 636-379-5533. Director of Public Relations Tom Drabelle said the number will be in service closer to June 16.
Riesberg said code enforcement staff will be available to answer calls from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Calls coming in after hours will be forwarded to the police department's non-emergency line, where dispatch will log the complaints and submit to code enforcement for follow-ups.
The smoke-free air ordinance states that no smoking signs must be posted at the entrance of every public place where smoking is prohibited.
Riesberg said the American Cancer Society is collaborating with the city to mail window signs to O’Fallon hospitality businesses. Drabelle said business owners can also pick up the signs at City Hall, print a version from the city website or use an existing generic no smoking sign.
During Thursday’s workshop, Ward 5 Councilman Mike Pheney asked Riesberg how city staff would investigate complaints of violations.
“What we’re intending to do, is on the first complaint, make note of it and follow up with the business,” Riesberg said. “Our code-enforcement officer will then meet with that business and remind them of the requirements, remind them that the business can be held responsible and fined.”
Riesberg said if complaints ensue, the code enforcement officer will follow up and both the business and patron could be fined.
Smokers who violate the terms of the smoking ordinance face fines up to $50. Business owners who fail to comply face up to $500 fines and possible suspension of licenses or permits. The ordinance states that each day a violation occurs is considered a separate violation.
During the meeting after the workshop, council approved an agreement with Cunningham and Associates and Cre8tive Play for the purchase and construction of the All-inclusive Playground.
The nature-themed playground is slated to be built in Westhoff Park this summer. It will be approximately 22,000 square feet and combine several climbing elements, ramps, slides, swings and musical instruments.
With $515,836 budgeted from the city and a $250,000 grant from the Developmental Disabilities Resource Board, Managing Director of Parks and Recreation Cindy Springer told O’Fallon Patch in February that the project had 75 percent of the funds needed to build and had $260,000 to go.
On Thursday, Springer said the city has reached around 50 percent of its outside funding goal. The “Let’s Play” trivia night held on April 29 at the O’Fallon Elk’s Lodge raised between $18,000 and $19,000 for the project scheduled to break ground on June 4.
The city is still offering several opportunities throughout the summer to raise funds for the playground. This Saturday, residents can participate in a “dine-in night” at Chevy’s Fresh Mex to help out. Participants can print a flier from the city’s website and present it at the restaurant from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. to have a portion of the proceeds donated to the playground fund.
Springer said the city can only purchase the playground equipment they have the funding for, and if the entire goal is not met, there are small pieces of the project that will be put on hold until the money is in.