A pre-school playgroup yesterday in Robert F. Wagner Park in Battery Park City. "We pay city taxes, these are city park officers and it (the law) should be enforced the same way," said Battery Park City mother of two Brooke McDonald, holding her 2 month old baby Hunter. "Especially because there are so many families down here. You come down down to get some fresh air and you get slammed. Its ridiculous. There are more children down here than in any other place in the City. "
Parks patrol officers have been told to politely enforce the new smoking ban -- and set up a system where violators essentially have to beg for a ticket before they'll be fined, according to the New York Post.
(Photos © Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.
By Geoffrey Croft
In what could turn out to be a smokers paradise one place you will not find any enforcement of the city's new smoking ban is in Battery Park City parks. City Parks Department Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers who patrol the lush 36 acres of parkland have been instructed not to write summons according to internal documents obtained by NYC Park Advocates. The documents also reveal smokers in other parks could be fined up to $ 300 dollars, a figure six times greater than previously made public.
Apparently not all rules apply.
"These documents should be kept internally with Parks, " the memo states, "Please do not circulate to non-parks personnel."
The nearly 36 acres of parks in Battery Park City located along Manhattan's lower Westside waterfront consist of parks, playgrounds, plazas, ballfelds, lawns and esplanades. The parks are operated by The Battery Park City Conservancy (BPC Parks) a non-profit organization under the jurisdiction the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA).
According to the Conservancy's website, the parks are permanently protected as "mapped parkland" by the City of New York, and are officially considered to be independently operated units of the City park system.
Partners. Numerous signs like this can be found throughout the parks in Battery Park City.
"We're being told not to issue summons because its state property," said numerous PEP officers in the park.
"We pay city taxes, these are city park officers and it (the law) should be enforced the same way," said Battery Park City mother of two Brooke McDonald, holding her 2 month old baby Hunter. "Especially because there are so many families down here. You come down down to get some fresh air and you get slammed. Its ridiculous. There are more children down here than any other place in the City. "
The City's new No Smoking rules can not be found on any signs in Battery Park City.
NYC Park Advocates has also learned that Hudson River Parks Trust, a City/State agency that operates 150 acres of parkland adjacent to Battery Park City - is also not participating in the smoking ban. Both of these parks have refused to install no smoking signs. The quasi city/state Brooklyn Bridge Park however is participating in the smoking ban according to a City Parks Department spokesperson.
A City Parks Department spokesperson said the smoking policy in Battery City Parks and Hudson River Park "now have it under review."
On Friday May 20, The Urban Park Service (UPS) Operations Order was emailed to all PEP officers marked N/A (not applicable) at this time to Battery Park City. The communication was also sent to employees at Hudson River Park.
42 full-time dedicated City PEP officers work the 36 acres of public parkland in Battery Park City, the greatest number of officers assigned to any parkland in the city. The Battery Park City Authority pays the city more than two million dollars annually for the PEP. The park's are privately funded through Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTS) collected from residential charges, and from ground leases.
More operational details have emerged.
Smokers who don't comply with the new law could be fined up to $ 300 dollars total. According to the Parks Department website, people who violate the new law could receive a $50 ticket. However according to the internal documents, that fine can rise another $ 250 if the person refuses to comply with an officer.
"Failure to comply with an officer is a $ 250 fine, so exercise discretion when issuing this summons for smoking violation," the memo states. This information however is not posted on the Parks Department's website.
The City also wants its officers to tape record the public receiving summons.
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.
Smoking will be allowed at Yankee and Shea Stadium parking lots.
This is the first time the enforcement policy has surfaced in writing.
"Over the next week, ashtrays will be removed from outside all our buildings and comfort stations, and no smoking signs will be posted throughout our properties," Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe wrote in an Internal Broadcast message sent to all employees on Friday, May 20th.
According to the city 36 smoking complains were made to 311 as of Tuesday and no summons have been issued so far.
Madison Square Park has multiple no smoking signs up at the entrances to the park.
On May 23rd, it became illegal to smoke in the New York City's over 1, 700 parks and on its 14 miles of beaches. In February the City Council voted 32-16 to ban smoking. A city Parks Department spokeswoman said the Bloomberg administration is in the process of erecting 3, 000 to 4, 000 permanent signs saying "Smell Flowers, Not Smoke" to educate people to the new law.
The Mayor has repeatedly said enforcement will be left to Parks Department's Park Enforcement Patrol and mostly by other New Yorkers themselves.
Village Voice Blog - May 27 2011 - By Joe Coscarelli
gothamist - May 27, 2011 - By Garth Johnston
The Epoch Times - May 26, 2011 - By Zack Stieber
CBS - May 26, 2011 - By Don Daylor
NY1 News - May 26, 2011
New York Post - May 26, 2011 - By John Doyle, C.J Sullivan and Jeremy Olshan
New York Post - May 24, 2011- By Danny Gold and Jeremy Olshan
New York Daily News - May 24, 2011 - By Erin Durkin
Associated Press - May 23 2011 - By Verena Dobnik