After being deluged with anti-herbicide e-mails and conversations with city residents, the Newport City Council has gotten the message that chemical herbicides have darn few friends in Newport. After reading a city parks and recreation committee report that disparaged chemicals but ultimately was judged too soft on them, the council decided to send the report back for some tightening up. For one thing it appeared that the council wants the prime directive to be, “no chemicals on city property,” UNLESS specifically authorized by either the city manager or the parks and recreation director. And they better have a good excuse!
Critics contend there are mountains of studies that show a clear and present danger to seniors and children especially who are exposed to herbicides. They say a public agency should exhaust every alternative before using chemical attacks, but even then, the community might rather just live with the problem out of concern for public health. However, City Parks and Recreation Director Jim Protiva reminded the council that some invasive plants pose allergic and asthmatic reactions in some people, which is a significant health threat. Protiva also reminded the council that relying strictly on labor or mechanical removal is not without its problems, not the least of which are costs.
The council told Protiva to rework the committee’s recommendations and report back when he’s finished so the council can have another go at it. They reiterated that the directive should be “no chemicals in Newport” unless specifically authorized with a clear and public explanation as to why. Again, the chemical ban pertains to city parks, rights of way and other city properties, like around city hall and other public buildings within Newport city limits.