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City Will Discourage Smoking In Parks

It only took one vote to prevent the Batavia City Council on Monday from passing a ban on drinking in public parks. But stopping passage of the ordinance change is only temporary.

The city council will likely vote on the proposed ordinance at its next business meeting in August, and with only three dissenting views on council, it will likely pass.

Rosemary Christian, Kathy Briggs and Sam Barone all cast no votes.

Christian clashed with Council President Marianne Clattenburg over the proposed change in the law as well as a new policy making the parks cigarettes-free zones.

Christian, a smoker, objects to the policy change on smoking cigarettes in public parks without the creation of designated smoking cigarettes areas.

Twice Clattenburg gavelled down Christian as she argued over the smoking cigarettes policy.

The policy isn't a law. Legally people can still smoke cigarettes in the parks, but police officers will be instructed to ask smokers not to smoke cigarettes or to leave if they want to continue smoking cigarettes.

Signs will be posted informing park patrons that the areas are cigarettes-free areas.

As for drinking, Christian is concerned that the change in the ordinance will prohibit the seemingly innocent pastime of a couple enjoying a picnic with beer.

From WBTA:

"You mean to tell me you can't go with your friend or your husband, and have a little picnic...and then you have a beer and you're going to be arrested?" she asked.

"Do you really think that's going to happen?" Clattenburg asked. "I sure hope not, but what's the point of even passing it?" Christian fired back.

"We have an issue...people loitering and drinking in our parks. That's what we're trying to fix here," Clattenburg said. "It's got nothing to do with you and your honey having a beer on a picnic," she added.

The exchange opened a discussion about how police can't enforce the law against one group of people, or say you can have two beers but not four.

Because we're already in the middle of summer, the bill was being fast-tracked so enforcement could begin immediately, but under state regulations, a fast-track bill requires unanimous approval. Because of the three no votes, the bill is not yet law. The council will vote again -- when a simply majority is all that's needed for passage -- at its August business meeting.