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Neighborhood Residents Worry That Battery Park Could Become 'Smoker's Paradise'

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- Some New York city residents are furious about the Big Apple's new smoking ban in public parks.

Their anger, however, is not because they're smokers – it's because they're not, and they're worried that exceptions to the ban may make their neighborhood park a smoker's paradise, reports CBS 2's Don Dahler.

There is arguably no more beautiful place to be in New York on a sunny, spring day than Battery Park City. It's a place where parents bring their children to feel the grass beneath their feet; it's a place to play, exercise, or just to sit and relax.

However, some residents worry that the very law that went into effect this week banning smoking in city parks doesn't apply to their neighborhood park. According to Parks Department documents obtained by an advocacy group, it's technically a state park.

Geoffrey Croft, with the NYC Park Advocates, showed those internal memos to CBS 2, and a note at the top of the message telling park officers how to deal with the new law said, "although not applicable to Battery Park City at this time…"

The official who sent out the memo, Jessenia Apornte, asked that it not be made public.

The rules exclusion extends to the two other downtown state parks, Hudson River Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park.

"If the city is going to go through the trouble of passing these laws, then enforce them," Croft said.

Margot Zigmont said she brings her daughter to the park as often as she can.

"This would be the last place that I think they should allow smoking," Zigmont said.

"That would be bad," Hoboken resident Jamie Baker said. "Any park that would be the 'smoker's park' would be bad – that's gross."

"No, I would not be very happy if this attracted a lot of smokers," Jennifer Paberas, of Inwood, said.

A Parks Department spokesperson told CBS 2 that "Battery Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park will both participate in the smoking ban. Hudson River Park currently has it under review."

Part of the confusion is apparently due to the three parks being under multiple jurisdictions. Some law enforcement officers were being told to stop smokers, while others were not.

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