The governing board of the Somerset County Park Commission could table a proposal to sell cigars at five golf courses managed by the agency, its president said Thursday.
The potential decision comes as a Somerset County task force is forming to investigate smoke-free policies for county buildings and grounds.
The commission had issued a request for bids for cigars and humidors, with responses due by Tuesday.March 16. Bid specifications indicated the commission wanted to resell the cigars at Green Knoll, Quail Brook, Spooky Brook, Warrenbrook and Neshanic Valley golf courses, with the anticipated expenditure not to exceed $15,000 per season in total. The commission stopped selling cigars in 2007 and doesn't sell cigarettes.
Commission President Steven Fuerst said there was a consensus among commissioners present at a Thursday work session of the board to table the cigar issue until the county task force presents its findings. Fuerst added that not all of the commissioners were present during the work session.
If the county has a policy which controls what we do then, to my mind, it doesn't make a lot of sense to go and take bids and stock an inventory and have to dispose of the inventory and whatever ancillary items are purchased that we wouldn't be able to use," Fuerst said.
Fuerst said the board would most likely have some kind of a vote, presumably at its next regular meeting on Thursday.March 18.
"The point is it's going to be on the agenda, we're going to discuss it, there's a possibility that we could go forward, there's a possibility we could wait and there's a possibility we can say we don't care what it is we're not going to sell tobacco products, but I think the most likely possibility is we're going to table it until we understand what the committee does," Fuerst said.
Freeholder Director Jack Ciattarelli, an opponent of selling cigars at the golf courses, said "tabling the policy is not only meaningless, it's also a bit of a cop out."
The task force's job is to formulate possible smoke-free policies, not to make recommendations on whether governmental agencies should sell tobacco, Ciattarelli said.
"Even if the task force were to recommend that smoking be allowed on county golf courses and the freeholders were to endorse that policy, that doesn't license the Park Commission to engage in the retail sale of tobacco," Ciattarelli said. "Smoking tobacco and selling tobacco, obviously, are two distinctly different things."
Ciattarelli said the task force isn't expected to return with potential policies until August or September.
Friday, March 12, 2010