Baraboo to ban tobacco in parks

March 1, 2019
Under proposed new city rules, leashed dogs would be allowed at city parks. Dogs already are allowed on the Baraboo Riverwalk.

Tobacco use in Baraboo parks is about to be extinguished.

On Tuesday, the Common Council approved several changes to its ordinance governing activity in parks, including a ban on smoking, vaping and using smokeless tobacco. The changes will return to the council for a second reading.

In other business, the council voted to spend nearly $2,000 on a study of the intersection of Oak and Fifth streets and approved a conceptual design for a canoe and kayak launch at the Maxwell-Potter Conservancy.

Tweaks to park rules the council was slated to consider included prohibiting smoking at the Ochsner Park Zoo. Council Member Scott Sloan proposed extending the ban to all city parks.

City Attorney Emily Truman noted this ordinance covers not only parks, but trails such as the Baraboo Riverwalk.

“It’s a pretty broad definition,” she said.

“The broader, the better,” Sloan replied.

Police Chief Mark Schauf said officers would cite offenders who refuse requests to comply with the revised ordinance.

“If it’s part of the ordinance, it’s part of our job to enforce it,” he said.

The council voted 8-0 to approve updates to park rules. These also included closing parks from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily (except the Liston Dog Park, which is open from sunrise to sunset), banning dogs at the conservancy’s arboretum and allowing leashed dogs at other parks. The revised ordinance also outlaws alcohol consumption at several parks (Campbell Park, Hackett Hollow Conservancy, Nanny Park, the Riverwalk and the dog park). It allows beer and wine consumption at other city parks.

City leaders wanted to crack down on problem drinking at some parks without preventing residents from enjoying adult beverages at family reunions.

“It just seemed to flow naturally,” Truman said.

Downtown intersection

The council also voted 8-0 to pay MSA Professional Services of Baraboo $1,870 to study traffic at the intersection of Oak and Fifth. More than 200 people signed a petition asking for a four-way stop, as Coffee Bean Connection draws significant traffic and drivers, pedestrians and children using Nanny Park find themselves in danger.

Police say the intersection, which currently stops only northbound and southbound drivers on Oak, sees no more accidents than any other similar intersection in the city. But residents say it’s the site of frequent scares.

City Engineer Tom Pinion said study results should be available in four to six weeks.

Kayak launch

Also gaining unanimous approval was a proposal to build a sturdy, handicapped-accessible canoe and kayak launch at Maxwell-Potter Conservancy. The city, along with the village of West Baraboo, plans to spend grant money to design a pier anchored by steel walls weighted down with rocks.

“They’ve been utilized for half a century or longer,” MSA engineer Warren Mohar said.

Grant money also would pay for construction of a pier at the conservancy this summer. The village, which saw Haskins Park’s floating launch destroyed by flooding last spring, will use an insurance settlement from that incident to pay for a more durable replacement.