Groton City considers leash law, smoking ban

Groton - City residents lighting up at Washington Park or letting their dogs run loose there could soon be subject to stiff fines.

City officials are considering two ordinances that would prohibit smoking in public parks and require pet owners to keep their dogs on leashes on public property.

Violation of the smoking ban would carry a $120 fine, while breaking the leash law would carry a $90 penalty.

The ordinances were read on May 20, but must be read twice and approved by the Groton City Council before they become effective. The next reading for both is June 17, City Mayor Marian Galbraith said.

Gregory Dixon, 32, a city resident who works out at Washington Park, said he supports ordinances banning smoking and controlling animals.

"Just the other day, a dog ran up (to me and) started barking and growling," he said. "Luckily, the owner was right there."

But Dixon said people don't know whether a dog is friendly or not. He said he also doesn't want people smoking at the park.

"I don't understand why people would want to smoke at a park anyway," he said. "A park should represent a healthy environment."

But Shaun Isaacs, 26, a town resident who visits city parks, said he'd strongly oppose a smoking ban. He said he's tired of being told where he can and can't go.

"I feel like I'm actually being singled out," he said.

The smoking ban would apply not just to Washington Park but all parks in the city. Police would enforce both ordinances.

The city does not have a leash law. Under current rules, dogs must be "under the control" of their owners, but not on a leash, Galbraith said. There's also been no fine, she said.

Galbraith said the leash law was prompted by people bringing their dogs to Eastern Point Beach even though this is prohibited. She said the smoking ban was discussed years ago.

Gladys Bukvic, 60, a social worker at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, said she supports both measures.

"I see patients every day dying of cancer and of throat cancer, and I really don't want to be exposed to that or (have) my family exposed to that," she said.

As for animals, she said owners may believe they know their pets.

But she added, "Animals are unpredictable. I think they're two good laws."

d.straszheim@theday.com

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