A proposed ban on tobacco use at the Sunnyside Park skateboard area in Atlantic was snuffed out by the City’s Parks and Recreation Department Board of Directors, because it was too narrow in scope, and because the proposal came from an outside group, and not from the skateboarders themselves, who have been tasked with policing the area to keep it clean and free from vandalism.
The proposal was made by Cass County Community Hospital Tobacco Prevention/Cessation Specialist Karla Akers and Circles for Success Coordinator, Melissa Stark, in coordination with students with the Atlantic Middle School and other, local groups. Akers said while there may be a perception of skateboard enthusiasts being smokers in other parts of the country, she admitted she doesn’t know if there is a problem with smoking at skate park in Atlantic.
Akers gave some reasons why they think the skate park should be tobacco free. One the reasons, is it makes for a healthier place for kids to play. She says it reduces the toxic litter, and helps prevent younger kids from playing with discarded cigarette butts. It would eliminate the danger of second-hand smoke, and allow kids to have fun without tobacco products. She said they’d like the park to be a model for healthy behavior to the citizens of, and visitors to Atlantic.
Atlantic Parks and Rec Director Roger Herring said the proposal is too narrow in focus, and doesn’t give those who use the skate park a say in what the policies are. He says he would rather the proposal be made by the skate park users themselves, for one thing, as opposed to an outside group dictating their behavior. He says it boils down his personal philosophy of “You have to police your own.” The Park Board agreed, they needed more input from the skate park users and from the Middle School “Builders Club,” before discussing the matter further and taking any action.