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Ask the Times: Smoking banned in parks
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If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following questions were submitted by readers and answered through the efforts of our news staff.

Is smoking allowed in Gainesville parks?

No. According to Gainesville ordinance Section 1-7-2. (17), “Smoking shall be prohibited within the boundaries of any park, sports complex, recreation area or facility owned, leased or operated by the city, including any open area within such park sports complex, recreation area or facility.”

The city marshal’s office and/or the Gainesville Police Department are responsible for enforcement.

Also, any citizen who wants to register a complaint may initiate enforcement with the health department, the chief of police, or the city marshal, or his designee, according to Sec. 3-7-9.

Penalties, according to Sec. 3-7-10, are as follows:
1. A fine not less than $100 for a first violation;
2. A fine not less than $100 but not to exceed $250 for a second violation of this chapter within one year; and
3. A fine not less than $250 but not to exceed $500 for each additional violation of this chapter within one year.

I was issued a warning for pulling from the Publix on Thompson Bridge Road left into the center turn lane. I was told it’s illegal to pull into the center turn lane like that. I’ve never heard of this; how long has it been a law?

According to state law, “Whenever a highway or roadway has a central lane in which traffic may enter from either direction for the purpose of making a left turn, no vehicle shall be driven into such central lane except for the purpose of making a left turn, and no vehicle shall enter into such central lane at a location which is more than 300 feet from the location where the vehicle will turn left across one or more lanes of oncoming traffic. No vehicle which has been driven into such a central lane shall be operated in such a central lane for more than 300 feet.”

That law has been on the books since 1997.

Kevin Holbrook, spokesman with the Gainesville Police, said this is a common problem on Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road near the Publix and also on U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway near the intersection with Enota Drive, where people travel in the center turn lane from before Lakeview Drive all the way to that intersection.

“Where many individuals go wrong is they will continue to travel down the central turn lane until they find a break in traffic, then proceed to the travel lanes,” Holbrook said, noting that that behavior causes many safety issues.

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