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Gainesville may curtail smoking in parks, recreation areas
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The advisory board for Gainesville’s parks has asked the City Council to consider limiting smoking in recreation areas.

Gainesville Parks and Recreation Director Melvin Cooper told the council Thursday that the request is the result of numerous complaints from citizens, including some from the Gainesville school system.

Cooper told the council at its last work session of the year that the Parks and Recreation board acted on complaints about secondhand smoke at City Park Stadium, the city’s softball complex and Little League fields, and sent a recommendation to the council to limit smoking in all city parks.

Cooper said the proposed ordinance would go along with Gainesville’s designation as a "Step up to Health Community" with the National Recreation and Park Association.

The ordinance, if passed, would require the city to designate smoking areas for people who choose to smoke at city parks, according to a letter from City Attorney James E. "Bubba" Palmour to the board of directors.

Councilman Robert "Bob" Hamrick said he was for the ordinance, but questioned how the ordinance would apply to passive recreation parks like Wilshire Trails and how the ordinance would be enforced.

Cooper told the council that his department was looking into enforcement and consulting the parks’ ranger on the issue.

Councilman George Wangemann also said he was on board with the proposal.

"It makes total sense, Melvin," he said.