The New York City smoking ban went into effect this week, and we noted the lax enforcement language, in which the city admits, “We expect the new law will be enforced by New Yorkers themselves, who will ask people to follow the law and stop smoking.” But in Battery Park, it’s going to be extra easy to light up because the officers who patrol the area have been instructed not to write tickets in an internal document obtained by the NYC Park Advocates. Up to 36 acres of parks in Battery Park City, along the west side of Manhattan, are run by a nonprofit and operate independently of the NYC park system; it’s actually state, not city, property. Other parks may be subject to the same loophole.
NYC Park Advocates, on the Walk in the Park blog, reports that Hudson River Parks Trust, which runs about 150 acres near Battery Park City, is also not enforcing the band.
Brooklyn Bridge Park, another of the parks run by both city and state groups, wouldn’t technically have to enforce the band, but appears to be for now, or at least that’s what the City Parks Department is claiming.
In actuality, there appears to be no documentation of a summons written so far for smoking, but the penalty bandied about by the city — $50 — may actually be much more.
The Park Advocates group reports that if a smoker “refuses to comply with an officer,” the fine can be raised $250 to a total of $300. The whole thing is supposed to be on tape, according to the memo:
If the person refuses to either put out the cigarette/cigar/pipe and or refuses to leave the area, the Operating Order instructs the officer to:
1. Make sure the audio recorder is activated.
2. Advise the person that failure to comply with this lawful order can result in a summons being issued.
3. Practice all verbal judo skills to try to obtain voluntary compliance.
4. If proper identification is received, issue an Environmental Control Board Summonses under the Parks Rules and Regulations for failure to comply with a posted sign A04 56 RCNY 1-03 (c) (2) or in absence of a sign, failure to comply with the directives of an officer A03 56RCNY 1-03 9c) 1.
Freedom in Battery Park City and Hudson River Park may not last forever — they’re said to have the ban “under review.”
Meanwhile, Gothamist reports, a “smoke-in the park” protest is planned for tomorrow, Saturday, May 28, at 2 p.m. at the Brighton 6th Street Boardwalk in Brooklyn.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 27, 2011