Smoking could be banned, or segregated, in borough parks and at parades. (Click to enlarge)
By SARAH KLEPNER
Fair Haven’s borough council engaged in a lively discussion about the pros and cons of banning smoking in parks Monday night.
“It’s a hazardous, offensive habit that doesn’t need to be in public,” said Councilwoman Susan Sorenson, liaison to the recreation commission, which has also been discussing the issue.
“What’s next?” replied Councilman Rowland Wilhelm, a smoker. “I understand it’s negative [behavior]. But you go down that slippery slope, and it opens the door for another governing body to come along and ban something else sugary drinks maybe.”
“I’m going to vote no, because you’re opening a door that shouldn’t be opened,” he said.
“But we’re not talking about second-hand sugar here,” Sorenson said.
Rumson banned smoking in its parks in 2011, and the move to do the same in Fair Haven grew out of discussions at the Rumson-Fair Haven Municipal Alliance to Prevent Drug and Alcohol Abuse earlier this year, officials said.
Fair Haven’s governing body has now discussed the issue at two consecutive meetings without taking any formal action. Several council members seemed to be looking for a mid-point between a ban and the status quo.
Sorenson said that while the parks and rec committee would prefer to pass a ban without setting aside smoking areas, it is willing to compromise.
“We have to decide where is a happy medium,” said Council President JonPeters, suggesting that a smoking area could be such happy medium.
Councilman Eric Jaeger commented, “I would support a ban when the public is around.” There was some back and forth about the difference between banning smoking in a park on an average day versus at events where people are packed together, like the upcoming Memorial Day parade or Fair Haven Day, set for June 15 at Fair Haven Fields.
Borough administrator Theresa Casagrande chimed in to support the ban at public events, where an impervious area such as asphalt, could be set aside for smokers.
Mayor Ben Lucarelli said the matter is still in early phases of discussion and that there will be ample opportunity for the public to weigh in before any formal action is taken.