Votes not to seek legal advice on possible challenge
The Ashland City Council decided Tuesday night not to interfere with the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission’s decision to restrict but not eliminate pesticide use.
The Parks Commission’s May decision came after hundreds of residents had voiced their support for a ban on pesticides, which include herbicides and insecticides.
The City Council voted on Tuesday night not to get a legal opinion from City Attorney Richard Appicello about whether the council can override the decision of the elected Parks Commission. The parks department has a long history of enjoying a quasi-independent status compared to other city of Ashland departments.
City Councilor Carol Voisin proposed getting the legal opinion, citing her concerns about the impacts of pesticides on the health of residents.
However, she was voted down 4-1 by other councilors.
Councilor Eric Navickas said he clearly believes the City Council has the ultimate jurisdiction over city parks.
He pointed out that the council passed a city-wide ban on the use of personal fireworks, which applies to park land.
Navickas said the City Council can work to control pesticide use in other areas of city operations.
“There are things the city can take on without stepping on parks’ toes,” he said.
Councilor Greg Lemhouse also said he didn’t think the City Council should force the Parks Commission to do anything.
The Parks Department has taken numerous steps to cut back on pesticide use. But Parks Commissioners worried about the cost and manpower needed to control weeds without pesticides as an option.