Smoking on areas of land owned by the City of Atchison will be prohibited following a divided vote by its governing body on Tuesday.
Resolution No. 6950, which prohibits the use of certain products within 25 feet of a playground, passed 3-2 during the regular City Commission meeting held following the Labor Day break.
Now-prohibited items include, but aren’t limited to, cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, snuff, pipes, electronic smoking devices and any nicotine infusion device or product that isn’t backed by the Food and Drug Administration for use in addiction cessation.
Commissioner Dave Butler and Commissioner Charlie Perdue dissented from approving the resolution for different reasons. Perdue said he’s not certain the city can succeed in combating childhood usage of tobacco in this way, and is skeptical of its authority to do so.
“Look, I don’t want kids to be exposed to smoking either, it’s an awful thing,” Perdue said. “But I don’t think that it’s our job. I think that falls on the parents.”
Butler is worried the measure will be ineffective as it “doesn’t have teeth,” or enough of a penalty for would-be violators to properly enforce compliance.
Chief Mike Wilson said after the meeting that City Attorney Bob Campbell is prepared to prosecute any violations as a Class C misdemeanor, entailing fines of up to $500. Wilson said his police officers will be enforcing the measure in a similar manner to the citation of traffic violations.
In other business:
Commissioners unanimously authorized City Manager Becky Berger to enter into a contract with Goldberg Group Architects worth $42,673.96 for renovation of police department facilities.
According to a city agenda document, the renovations will facilitate the recording and storing of law enforcement interviews with criminal suspects and other persons, which the state requires the department to preserve on video.
The renovation will also allow the department to put all staff on the ground floor of City Hall, and add about 2,000 sq. ft. of garage space. The department has declared that a renovation of its City Hall space is financially preferable to a general expansion of facilities, which could cost millions, it said.
A representative from the firm made a presentation on the project with support from Wilson, who thanked commissioners for their support.
Commissioners authorized the city to proceed with a Nov. 5 sale of up to $4,135,000 in general obligation bonds for various purposes. Perdue objected, as he has before, to plans regarding the renovation of the Atchison Event Center with the proceeds from this bond sale; part of the renovated space is set to be used for office space by the State of Kansas.
Perdue suggested, on the basis of expert testimony he declined to specify, that there are reasons to believe the lease agreement could fall through and that the city can’t count on being able to service its bonds with lease proceeds.
“You have nothing whatsoever on this lease,” Perdue said. “I was talking to a gentleman today, who said the state has backed out of contracts they’ve had.”
Berger asked Perdue who he had spoken with, but Perdue demurred. A back-and-forth ensued between Perdue, Berger and Joe Warren, administrative services director, on what Perdue ought to do to object to the measure. Perdue suggested that he hasn’t been able to get answers to various questions on the matter at city commission meetings. Berger objected.
“Charlie, you don’t ask about this ahead of time,” Berger said. “I’ve asked you, repeatedly, to come in and talk to me if you have any concerns about something that’s on the agenda. I don’t have those figures right in front of me ...”
Finally, Perdue inquired what the city may lease the office space for, in terms of price. Assistant City Manager Justin Pregont stated that its value is estimated at $12 per square foot, per year. Negotiations with the State of Kansas are pending on what the event center space may go for, he emphasized.
Commissioners then authorized Resolution No. 3131, providing for the construction of improvements of the event center and arranging for the costs to be paid with authorized bond money. Perdue dissented.
Commissioners unanimously backed the demolition of houses at 721 Mound St., 1011 Division St., 107 N. 16th St. and 719 Washington St. on account of their dilapidated state. The house at 719 Washington, owned by Bryan Boldridge, received a 45-day window to be repaired to an acceptable standard.
Mayor Allen Reavis and Commissioner Shawn Rizza reminded Boldridge that the 45-day window should be, in their view, redeemed with both a concrete plan for renovation that demonstrates established financing and outward signs of improvement at the property. Otherwise, they said, it will be subject to demolition. Boldridge said he will meet all standards.
“And if I don’t, I’ll be coming back here with a lawyer because I’m not giving up on this,” Boldridge said.
David Ovard, an attorney for Bank of America, owner via apparent foreclosure of the home at 721 Mound St., called in to the meeting and obtained a 45-day window for the bank to decide whether it wishes to pay for the home to be sufficiently renovated, while suggesting it likely won’t do so after a full assessment is complete.
No one spoke on behalf of the N. 16th Street house, and it is set to be demolished after a 30 day minimum delay. The city obtained the owner’s permission to wreck the Division Street house after 30 days; Jared C. Martin said he won’t pay to renovate it after years of unsuccessful sale attempts. Martin said he intends to move to Australia in the near future, pending a visa process, and is content to give up ownership to the city land bank.
For more information, call 913-367-5500 or visit City Hall at 515 Kansas Ave.