Neighborhood Asks Village Board for Help Dealing with Smokers

The Rhinebeck Resident

Postings of Village/Town Topics
By Rhinebeck Community Forum staff  writer Meridith Ferber
August 12th 2011

Neighborhood Asks Village Board for Help Dealing with Smokers


The three streets that make up Cramer Park in the village of Rhinebeck, Orchard Street, Verna Rd. and Cramer Road have appealed to the Village of Rhinebeck Board for help dealing with employees of Northern Dutchess Hospital who use their neighborhood as an ashtray.  During Tuesday evening’s Village Board Meeting, village resident and Rhinebeck Community Forum reporter Meridith Ferber, appealed to the Board on behalf of her neighbors in the close-knit neighborhood.  Mrs. Ferber presented photos of the street and “path” leading from the hospital grounds to the Board to illustrate the problems associated with the hosptial’s non-smoking campus.  On any given day at any hour, hospital employees and patient visitors can be seen crossing from the parking lot onto Orchard Street by orders of the hospital administration who has advised employees that they cannot smoke on the hospital grounds, but can do what they wish on public property.  Smokers congregate near the fence on Orchard Street or walk laps around the ½ mile loop, discarding butts as they go. 

Several neighbors have appealed to the hospital for help regarding the littering, air pollution and general eyesore that this causes but the hospital states that they cannot tell their employees where they can and cannot smoke once off of the grounds.  Several years ago an article ran on the front page of the Gazette Advertiser featuring a photo of small metal pail engulfed in flames due to an un-extinguished cigarette and a photo of hospital employees gathered in a group smoking in the middle of the street.  The hospital denied that anyone spoke with the administration about the problem and stated its value to the community as a whole.  Terry Gipson stated, at Tuesday’s meeting, that the hospital spokesperson had promised to address the issue when questioned about it during a routine hearing seeking approval for a project, but nothing has been addressed to date. 

Residents of Cramer Park include several hospital employees and volunteers, eleven children and longtime residents.  As a resident, I can state that we would like to see the hospital appreciate its neighbors and their health.  Our objection is not that people smoke but the way in which they are forced to our neighborhood street and the hospital washes their hands of the matter.  Our children ride their bikes, walk pets and play in this neighborhood and they shouldn’t have to walk through clouds of smoke and puddles of cigarette butts to do so.  It’s a hospital for Pete’s sake!

Residents have researched other hospital policies and found that campuses do have an option.  For example, St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie has rectified a similar issue by building gazebo on campus where smokers are asked to go for their smoke breaks.  This keeps employees within the confines of the campus but keeps the smokers in one location rather than around doors and general access points.

Upon hearing of the continuing concerns and issues Mayor James Reardon asked that a letter be composed and neighborhood signatures be compiled so that he can approach the hospital about doing what’s right for the health, safety and children of Cramer Park.  The residents are currently compiling the information and hope to see results that benefit the healthy lifestyle a hospital should want for its neighbors and community. 

The Rhinebeck Community Forum will report on any updates as they become available.  If you have any information regarding similar issues and potential solutions please send them to the RCF.

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