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Parks opt out of smoking ban

Unlike some cities in the metro area, West Fargo Parks decided not to implement an official ban on smoking in public parks.

The park board was considering passing a ban on smoking in parks, which could have followed the lead of Dilworth. The Minnesota city passed an ordinance earlier this year that provides signage at parks asking smokers to abstain, but the law does not carry a fine or possible punishment.

Nearly 160 Minnesota cities have passed similar laws.

In North Dakota, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public places of employment and within 20 feet of public entrances to businesses.

West Fargo Park Board member Jeff McCraken said a ban would be nearly impossible to enforce.

“We can’t police that, and I wouldn’t expect our police department to police that,” he said.

The board opted out of passing a formal ordinance prohibiting smoking at its regular meeting last week. Signs prohibiting smoking will be posted at special events.

Board President Sharon Odegaard said she hopes smokers will use discretion and avoid lighting up in city parks.

In other park board business: The board is requesting bids for the second phase of River Bend Park.

The first phase of the park at 2548 1st St. E. in West Fargo will be completed this year. The second phase, which includes building a warming house and gazebo, is expected to be finished in Oct. 2016.

Park district Executive Director Barb Erbstoesser said the timeline for the project matches the rate of development in that area. She said the development will be “filled in” by the time the park is ready to fully open.

Project engineer Matt Welle said the extended timeline may also help bid prices stay competitive.

“I think we should be able to get better prices in that time frame,” he said. 

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and at CBS in Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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