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Council Tackles Smoking Ban and Other Downtown Proposals

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Smoking could soon be banned in Park Central Square.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Smoking could soon be banned in Park Central Square.

Springfield City Council heard public opinion on the issue in its meeting Monday night.

Tom Billionis owns The Coffee Ethic on The Square.

"You want people to feel comfortable down here," he said.

He is in favor of a proposed ban on smoking on the sidewalks near his business.

"There's a lot of litter and a lot of cigarette butts, so to see those going away would definitely be a great benefit to The Square," he said.

But many people view it as a public place that shouldn't have such a restriction.

"You should be responsible for not throwing them on the ground and stuff like that but I don't see why you can't smoke," Opponent Carrie Jones said.

The issue came before City Council Monday night, along with three other issues relating to downtown laws.

Those included the sale of food, skateboarding, and a new bill which would effectively prohibit all panhandling in downtown Springfield.

And there's already an alternative to panhandling in place, the giving meters are all around downtown.

"We want to see money funneled into the systems that can help people that need it," Billionis said, "And the giving meters are one way to do that."

The four issues council debated pertain to certain behaviors in The Square and how they can possibly negatively affect businesses like The Coffee Ethic.

"These were just proposals, they were ideas, ways that we can make Park Central Square more inviting and a safer place for people to come and spend time," Billionis said.

A main concern brought up by speakers at the council meeting is enforceability of these bills if they were to pass.

These issues are set to be voted on at the next council meeting.
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