By Caspar Ewig
In a lightly attended Cooperstown Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, October 24, the trustees voted to ban smoking cigarettes and vaping for all tourists and visitors, as well as local residents, while walking on the sidewalks of the business district of Cooperstown’s Main Street.
The 7:30 p.m. public hearing was set to address an amendment to Chapter 233-3 A of the Village Code. The Proposed Local Law 8 of 2022 under consideration reads as follows, with the suggested amendments italicized:
“The following areas owned by the Village are hereby designated as smoke- and vape-free zones: Village Hall and adjoining land at 22 Main Street; Doubleday Field, the Doubleday Field grandstand, bleachers, and other spectator and player areas; sidewalks and adjacent public property on Main Street between Fair Street and Pine Boulevard: and Council Rock, Lakefront Park, Pioneer Park, Badger Park, Three Mile Point Park and Fairy Spring.”
Only two residents in attendance made any comments, one of which was a personal recollection regarding the negative effects of driving through a smoking area in another town. No other statements were made by either residents or trustees that might be said to represent a reasoning for the underlying purpose of, or necessity for, the rule change. Nor was any discussion held on the economic or “positive experience” impact that the law might have on business going forward.
Except for one trustee admitting that there might be a problem of practical enforcement since workers in the business establishments would want a place to smoke, the only lively discussion that took place among the trustees was to determine what areas were encompassed by the proposed amendment.
For example, would the grassy area between the sidewalk and the roadway be considered within the definition, and what constituted “areas of adjacent public property.” Trustee Richard Sternberg short circuited that discussion with a suggestion that the Board pass the resolution despite the open questions subject to subsequent “tweaking” afterward. Or, in the words of another trustee, “Let’s pass it and see where it goes.”
The penalty for violation of the new law would be the issuance of a summons that could result in a fine up to $100.00.