By JOY BROWN
Findlay City Council decided Tuesday to not consider banning e-cigarettes in indoor public places where cigarettes have already been prohibited.
The ban was proposed by Findlay City Health Department personnel and a pulmonary specialist last week, but a majority of council hesitated to even form a committee to further discuss the idea.
Third Ward Councilman Ron Monday, charged with polling council members individually, on Tuesday said eight were against creating a committee and two were in favor.
When asked if council should, as a whole, appeal to state legislators to push for e-cigarette regulation at the state level, four council members said yes, five said no, and one didn’t care, Monday said.
Although cities such as Los Angeles, and schools such as Ohio State University, have enacted e-cigarette bans, no government entity in Ohio has done so.
Health professionals here were hoping Findlay would be a trailblazer, although there is not yet scientific evidence showing that so-called “vaping,” and its secondhand emissions, can be harmful.
E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that do not burn tobacco. Instead, they heat nicotine, propylene glycol and glycerin into a vapor, which is inhaled by the user.
Separately Tuesday, a Findlay intersection upgrade that was planned for this year may be postponed in favor of similar work at another location.
Administrators suggested the $125,000 that was supposed to go toward work at Lima Avenue and South West Street instead be spent on the busy East Sandusky Street intersection with Osborn Avenue near the Hancock County Fairgrounds.
Service-Safety Director Paul Schmelzer said the latter project “seems more logical,” given the Ohio Department of Transportation’s plan to pave that stretch of Sandusky Street.
“The upgrade will also provide better coordination with other area intersections that have already been upgraded or are in the process of being upgraded,” Schmelzer said.
Council gave a first reading to legislation that would shift money within the capital improvements fund.
The work would include new poles for traffic lights, new vehicle and pedestrian signals, underground conduit, and other equipment for emergency vehicles.
Councilman-At-Large Grant Russel also suggested the upgrades take into account pedestrian dangers. He said currently, those crossing East Sandusky Street from south to north “have no idea what the lights are doing.”
Dilapidated properties in the city were also a topic of conversation by council.
Sixth Ward Councilman Tom Klein said he’d like to speak with other council members and administrators about strengthening the city’s Neighborhood Enhancement and Abatement Team so it can better enforce city code.
“Since I’ve become a council person, the majority of calls I’ve received have been about unkept properties, dilapidated structures, general eyesores. When I’ve followed up, and driven by these places, I found these people have legitimate complaints,” Klein said.
“N.E.A.T. was established in 2004. Our team right now is one person. I think it’s time we formed a task force, an ad hoc committee, or something like that to look at our current N.E.A.T. department and see what we need to do to give Becky (Greeno) a team again and enforce some of these ordinances we have in place,” Klein said. “We need to be more vigorous and aggressive about it.”
Schmelzer said he will meet with Klein to “try to further that effort.”
Also Tuesday, Schmelzer said Riverside Pool’s new dual-flume water slide may not be installed by the time the pool opens on Memorial Day weekend. He said if it is in place by then, “I think it will be a miracle.”
“Our biggest holdup has been obtaining a building permit from Wood County,” Schmelzer said. “If the permitting authorities turn this thing around in the next couple of weeks, we’ll be OK.”
If installation has to take place after Memorial Day, the pool will remain open. Schmelzer said temporary construction fencing would be erected and slide installation, weather permitting, would take no more than five days.