The Greenbelt City Council appears poised to support recommendations that may all but douse one’s ability to smoke in the Roosevelt Center mall area.
Since May, three groups — the Community Relations Advisory Board (CRAB), the Park and Recreation Advisory Board and the Youth Advisory Committee — have all produced reports to council in support of eliminating smoking from the center.
CRAB struck the most tolerant position, recommending a ban that would only encompass the immediate mall area — described as “the rectangular area where the benches and tables are located.” Its prohibition would not prevent smokers from lighting up along Centerway's sidewalks and those leading to and from the mall’s parking lots.
All three reports do support designating one nearby area for smokers, an issue the city council grappled with during a work session Wednesday night at the Greenbelt Community Center.
The reports suggest different areas, including on the small grassy area across from Dominoes Pizza, down by the underpass opening up to the mall area and at the “picnic table area behind the Mobile station.”
The council seemed mixed over these locations. “I think we ought to talk to the merchants (first),” said council member Edward Putens. Mayor Pro Tem Emmett Jordan agreed. A merchants association meeting is schedule for Aug. 22.
For her part, council member Silke Pope indicated that two designated smoking areas, rather than one, might be more reasonable to employees who’d have to otherwise march a greater distance to smoke.
The other hang-up during the work session concerned whether the council can prevent private restaurants, such as the New Deal Café, from allowing patrons to smoke outside. State legislation dating back to 2007 precludes bars and restaurants from smoking indoors, not outside their premises.
“It seems to me that where you are serving food, smoking should not be allowed,” said council member Leta Mach, referring to the small patio area outside the New Deal Café.
According to council member Rodney Roberts, the city park area comes to “within three feet” of the mall’s businesses, posing a possible three-foot gap of grey area between the would-be ban and business owners who might like to see smoking continue.
Note: Mayor Judith "J" Davis was not present at the work session.