Andrew Dys

Rock Hill revives proposed park smoking ban; where are smokers?

A sign at Rock Hill’s Glencairn Garden park. The city is considering a smoking ban at all parks.
A sign at Rock Hill’s Glencairn Garden park. The city is considering a smoking ban at all parks. Andrew Dys

In search of the apparent rampage of park cigarette smokers the city of Rock Hill wants to ban (after a first try in May failed), the first stop has to be Fountain Park downtown.

There was nobody there because although the fountain is only a year old and cost a million dollars, it broke. It remains broken – so almost nobody and certainly no smokers go to the park with the million-dollar fountain in it that does not fount.

What apparently started with a complaint or two by people at ball games to the city and its recreation commission over a grizzled old grandpa smoking behind a softball field outfield fence will bring soon, if the votes hold, an outright ban on smoking everywhere in parks. No smoking areas, either.

Councilman Kevin Sutton knows smoking is horrible. He is right. Sutton, who does not smoke and does not want to be around it, still wondered why there was not an accommodation, a meeting in the middle to make a place for smokers. Smokers could have been behind walls, just like a prison or Trump’s wall with Mexico. But for nonsmokers who run the city, it is no smoking and no areas for smokers in parks, either.

“It seemed like we could have had a simple fix with a compromise for smokers – but no,” sighed Sutton.

Just like it appears there are few, if any park smokers.

City leaders a decade ago enacted a jaywalking law downtown when there were no jaywalkers downtown. City people despise walkers who cross against the light, but city leaders only were able to get the law to include a summons ticket – yet nobody has ever gotten a jaywalking ticket.

The penalty for smoking in a city park, should the law pass, has not yet been discussed. Maybe it will include public lashings.

The next place that must be filled with so many awful smokers that the City Council would bring it up has to be beautiful Glencairn Garden, with its awesome plants and waters and flowers. No question it is a city treasure.

What was found Tuesday after the smoker vote was scofflaws. No smokers, however. Not one.

There was a nice young lady sitting on a swing. Her dog was next to her on the sidewalk. For a minute it was not on a leash.

Rule breaker.

The signs at the park are clear: “All pets must be tightly controlled on a 3-foot leash. Owners are required to curb pets in grass areas only. Clean any waste, and dispose of in proper receptacles,” the sign states.

She was told that the city wanted to outlaw smoking at the park she sat in. She looked for a smoker. There was none.

“Don’t they have bigger fish to fry?” the lady asked.

Then she took the dog for a walk, and she cleaned up that waste for sure, as she did not want to get the electric chair if caught not picking up the poop.

There was a young couple of friends from nearby Winthop University walking. They had hands near their mouths.

“Smokers?” they were asked.

“M&Ms” said the guy. He held up the yellow packet of peanut candies.

They walked and passed another sign in a park known for its beautiful plants and spaces and green grass and picnics.

“Please Stay on Path” the signs states.

Tough to enjoy grass between your toes when the rules say stay on the concrete.

On another spot a photographer took pictures of a lady with an infant. It was a beautiful scene – if the photographer was not doing this as a business. In Rock Hill, at parks, anybody doing video or pictures commercially is required to get a permit from the city.

The people showing the joy of pictures of a newborn at a park did not look like brazen criminals, but this is Rock Hill and rules are rules.

Another lady sat on a swing using a cellphone. And there it was. First the smokers will get the boot, and then the phone users are next. The park will be free of smoke, cameras, and phones.

Eventually people will be banned.

At least the city gets it right on its regulations for Glencairn Garden sign in one line. Glencairn Garden does not allow booze, dope and most importantly, guns.

“No alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, weapons or firearms of any kind,” the sign states.

Wait until the gun lovers who want guns in churches, day cares, schools, bars, school buses and ball games see that sign.