The expected vote by the Riverside village board on an ordinance banning smoking in most public parks took a surprise turn Monday night, with board members tabling the measure and calling for an expansion of the proposed smoking ban.

The proposed ordinance would have prohibited smoking in all public parks under the direction of the Recreation Department, including Big Ball Park, Blythe Park, Harrington Park, Indian Gardens, Patriots Park, Swan Pond Park, Turtle Park and the unnamed triangle bounded by Longcommon, Evelyn and Downing roads. It would have replaced an older ordinance that banned smoking in public parks within 25 feet of recreational activities.

Although four trustees, enough to pass the measure, had declared their support of the new ordinance before Monday night’s meeting, as the proposal was being discussed before the vote, it soon became clear that it wasn’t well understood exactly what territory the new ban would cover.

As written, certain pockets of park land not controlled by the Recreation Department would not be subject to the ban. For example, Trustee Jean Sussman noted that in Indian Gardens, the tennis courts and baseball fields would be no-smoking areas, but a nearby walking path would not.

Fears that such variations would make the ban unenforceable, ultimately turned most trustees against the proposal.

“I think it’s a formula for difficult enforcement and confusing people,” Trustee Thomas Shields said. “If we’re going to ban smoking in the parks, we ought to do it. Either eliminate it, or don’t. This piecemeal approach is a problem.”

A full smoking ban in the village’s parks was proposed a few months ago by Trustee Kevin Smith, but at the time it was rejected as too broad a measure. Board opinion seemed to shift at the meeting, however, as trustees Sussman and Candice Grace joined Smith in calling for the proposed ordinance to be redrafted to include all public parks and parkland.

“I understand that people want to smoke, and that they feel we’re infringing on their rights,” Grace said. “But my right to breathe fresh air trumps that.”

The board tabled the ordinance, with Village Manager Kathleen Rush saying she’d send it back to village staff to expand the ban to the remaining park land.

Passage of a full smoking ban is not a sure thing, however. Shields never stated his position on the new proposal at the meeting, and Trustees John Scully and Benjamin Sells were not in attendance. Prior to Monday’s meeting, however, Sells had said he did not support the smoking ban for the Recreation Department’s park areas.