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N. Belle Vernon official demands park smoking ban

| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 1:46 a.m.

North Belle Vernon Councilwoman Betty Shine-Hill wants a smoking ban at Graham Street Park, and she wants it now.

She demanded the ban Tuesday at a council meeting.

“I heard a story of a mom who was trying to break through a congregation of kids at the bottom of the steps,” Shine-Hill said of an alleged incident at the park.

“After she had to say ‘excuse me' twice, they finally let her through and one of the kids blew smoke right in her face. That's ignorant, and I want smoking banned.”

Shine-Hill moved for the borough solicitor to draft an ordinance for a ban. Councilman Mark Frederick provided a second and it passed by a 4-3 vote.

Council members John Wasicek, Brett Berish and Diann Donaldson opposed the action.

Frederick, Shine-Hill, John Ross and council President Dennis Simboli voted yes.

“Betty, I said I would support you on this, so I'm voting yes,” Simboli said.

“But remember, this doesn't mean that the ordinance has passed. It's just one step, (the ordinance) would have to pass another vote.”

“Betty, I personally polled 60 people at the car show on Saturday and a majority of them said they want to be able to smoke at the park,” Simboli said.

“Now, just like the story you told, that's heresay, but I'll bring you a petition with signatures if you want it.”

“And I'll bring you one with more (signatures),” Shine-Hill responded.

“I understand it's for the kids, Betty, but I don't understand how we're going to enforce it,” said Berish, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said. “You can't have people down there dialing 911 for a cop everytime they see someone down there smoking a cigarette. It's going to get ridiculous.”

Berish asked Mayor Craig Ambrose, who oversees the police department, if he believed an ordinance could properly be enforced.

“In my opinion, no,” Ambrose replied.

“I just don't see how we can enforce it,” Wasicek said. “Yes, the smoking thing is an issue, but we have other issues in this town, too. If a cop is going to be down at the park, I want them to be watching for acts of bullying or something worse, not for the guy standing there minding his business smoking a cigarette.”

In other business:

• Council warned residents that anyone caught dumping electronics in borough dumpsters will be prosecuted.

“Landfills won't take them,” Frederick said. “In my opinion, if a resident goes out and buys the TV, it's their responsibility to find the proper disposal for it.

“Actually, the Department of Environmental Protection came up with this mandate, so they should provide the funding for us to store these items.”

Wasicek said anyone who puts out the items for collection by Waste Management should be mindful to pull the items back off the alleyways and sidewalks when they aren't collected.

• Announced the Halloween parade will begin 1 p.m. Oct. 26. Participants should report to the intersection of Broad Avenue and Short Street. Trick or treat will take place after the parade from 3 to 5 p.m.

• Announced that Lynn Alley between Vine and Baltimore streets is open to traffic. It had been closed because of a mine subsidence incident in November.

• Announced the borough will explore making the right side of Baltimore Street a no parking zone from Broad Avenue to Green Street.

“It's become like a one-way street there, because people are parking on both sides of the street,” Simboli said. “It's a huge safety issue, because you can't see what's coming up over the knob of the hill.”

• Reminded residents that RVs, boats, and trailers are not to be parked along borough streets. Citations will be issued to violators.

Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-684-2667.

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