AUGUSTA — City councilors meet tonight to discuss a proposal to ban smoking at all city parks and athletic facilities.

Councilors also are expected to discuss recycling with a regional recycling committee that has been studying ways to increase and improve recycling in the area.

The city’s current policy against smoking in city parks, approved in 2006, is strictly voluntary.

Mayor William Stokes said he and city councilors thus asked for a draft policy that would actually ban smoking, not just ask that smokers extinguish their smokes.

“None of us are supportive of allowing smoking” in city parks, Stokes said of city councilors and his own position. “It was brought to our attention by a couple of constituents that there was nothing in the city, as policy, that prohibits it.”

The draft ordinance prohibiting smoking up for discussion by councilors tonight would prohibit smoking at or within 20 feet of parks, athletic facilities and play areas owned by the city, including ballfields, courts and their spectator areas, such as bleachers.

Not included in the draft ordinance are city facilities including Augusta City Center, Old Fort Western, Lithgow Public Library, Buker Community Center and Augusta Civic Center.

Smoking on school playgrounds, and all school grounds, already is banned by state law, 365 days a year.

Under the terms of the proposed ordinance, smokers could be fined $50 if found guilty in court. However, the proposed ordinance states, “Prior to issuing a citation for a violation of this ordinance, a police officer shall issue one verbal warning to an individual. If the individual fails to comply after one warning, said individual shall be given a citation to appear in court. If the individual is found in violation, the court may impose a minimum $50 fine.”

Councilors are scheduled to discuss the proposal at their meeting tonight, which begins at 6:30 in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

Councilors also are to:

* review the new state law allowing fireworks and discuss local implications;

* discuss parking on Drew Street;

* discuss a constituent issue regarding paving Western Avenue between Smith Street and Edison Drive; and

* hear a presentation from the Regional Recycling Committee, which was formed in 2010 to look for ways municipalities in the region can increase recycling and make it more efficient.

The committee has been meeting regularly and was formed with a focus on recycling in the nine municipalities that send waste to Hatch Hill landfill in Augusta: Augusta, Chelsea, Farmingdale, Gardiner, Hallowell, Manchester, Pittston, Randolph and Whitefield.

Among the proposals the committee is considering is a “pay as you throw” proposal in which residents would pay to dispose of their trash.

Stokes encouraged anyone with questions about recycling to attend tonight’s meeting, or to tune in via local cable access television.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

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