Council Bans Smoking In City Parks

fter much debate, City Council on Monday voted 7-2 to prohibit the use of tobacco in city parks and recreation areas.

While some argued about the dangers of second-hand smoke cigarettes and the litter from cigarette butts, there was a more important point to the new policy, Council President Marianne Clattenburg said.

“It’s the example we set when children see adults smoking cigarettes,” she said during Monday’s business meeting.

And soon anyone in city parks and at Jackson Square will be asked to abide by a tobacco-free policy. Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian proposed an amendment to the resolution that would offer a limited, designated area in the parks. Council voted that down 7-2. Both votes got a yes from Tim Buckley, Sam Barone, Bob Bialkowski, Bill Cox, Patty Pacino, Frank Ferrando and Clattenburg. Kathy Briggs and Christian voted no.

Briggs went for the designated area pitch because “it’s a compromise,” she said.

Everything is being regulated, including what’s an appropriate greeting — happy holidays — at Christmastime, Christian said. She did not want this all or nothing.

“Government has gone way too far with our rights,” she said.

Council’s other vote to prohibit alcohol anywhere in city parks (the current wording allows for drinking in pavilions) was not unanimous and therefore did not pass. Usually there has to be a grace period between a public hearing and a vote on the same issue. Council was able to vote on the night of the hearing but it had to be unanimous to pass, Clattenburg said. The vote would have included all areas in the park and required a permit for gatherings at the pavilions.

Ferrando, Cox, Buckley, Bialkiowski, Pacino and Clattenburg said yes while Christian, Briggs and Barone said no.

Residents Dave Twichell and John Roach spoke on opposing sides during a public hearing prior to the vote. Twichell, who is president of the Youth Board, cited a study done by the Centers for Disease Control that showed how many youths were drinking alcohol, he said.

“An ordinance banning consumption ... would be a valuable tool in the battle of underage drinking,” he said.

No law is going to change the amount of underage drinking, Roach said. He asked what was the purpose of the change and whether the town of Batavia was consulted about it. The city and town have a joint task force to work on a plan to consolidate both municipalities. A lot of money has been spent so far on the effort and now the city is changing the law, he said.

“Is this another unnecessary change just to irk people?” he said.