When it comes to laying down a blanket and having a sandwich with the kids in one of Riverside’s parks, some members of the village board have some advice – “Enjoy yourself.”

That was Trustee Joseph Ballerine’s response to resident Thomas Jacobs at the village board’s meeting Monday night, during which Jacobs proposed that the village loosen its restrictions and begin allowing well-regulated picnicking.

“My family is planning a picnic this coming weekend across the street in beautiful Scottswood Common,” said Jacobs. “What is your advice to me? What should I be doing?”

“Enjoy yourself,” responded Ballerine, whose statement was echoed by Trustee Mark Shevitz.

That’s despite the fact that the village code does not allow picnicking of any kind in Riverside parks. In 1987, the village board passed a blanket prohibition of picnicking, fishing and boat launching in or from any Riverside park. According to Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel, such an offense would result in a $35 ticket.

And that sentiment from at least two board members on Monday night – go ahead and have a picnic if you want to – makes no sense to Jacobs, who also occasionally writes an opinion column for the Landmark and who made picnicking the subject of a piece he wrote in August.

“I think it should be noted that in this collective body there are people who say, ‘Disrespect the law,'” Jacobs said. “There are ordinances on the books that are apparently up to interpretation by individually elected members of this board.”

Jacobs’ response came on the heels of a majority of the village board deciding to forego further discussion of Jacobs’ proposal to revisit Riverside’s ban on picnics. This summer, the village’s Parks and Recreation Commission contemplated recommending possible changes to the picnicking law, but decided to drop the issue when they failed to find broad support for such a change.

Village trustees felt that kicking the issue back to the commission, when they had already decided to maintain the status quo, would be counterproductive. Five village trustees along with President Michael Gorman agreed to table the issue.

Trustees Ben Sells and Jean Sussman favored sending it back to the recreation commission now that Jacobs had a concrete proposal on the drawing board.

“It can’t hurt to talk about this,” said Sells. “It seems to me the place to talk about it, though, is the Parks and Recreation Commission. … I would ask that the Parks and Recreation Commission consider it in that context. Now we actually have a concrete proposal which they didn’t have before. Let them vet it and report back to us.”

But with a majority of trustees agreeing with the commission to maintain the status quo, that suggestion was rejected.

“I think at this point we would agree … to not go further with this,” said Gorman, who suggested Jacobs perhaps re-approach the recreation commission.

Briefly, Jacobs proposed allowing families of eight or fewer to be able to picnic in parks at will. Groups of between nine and 29 people would need to get a permit and pay a fee to cover the cost of cleanup, while groups of 30 or more would need to get a special event permit, which would need village board approval to move forward.

Jacobs said that nuisance concerns about alcohol, loud music, grilling and littering are already covered by various sections of the village code.