Allowing golf carts on BE streets still an issue
After passing an ordinance a year ago that allows golf carts on certain city streets, the Blue Earth City Council is taking another look at the law.
At their work session last Monday night, the council spent time discussing several issues related to the use of special vehicles golf carts, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and mini-trucks on streets.
And, they did not seem to agree on what the regulations should be.
Currently, golf cart users need to get a permit from the city to use them on city streets, at a cost of $25, and there are numerous streets where they are not allowed.
Those streets include Main, Seventh, 14th, Fairgrounds Road and Leland Parkway as well as Highway 169 and Interstate 90.
The rules also cover a multitude of what type of equipment needs to be on the cart, who can operate them and what rules of the road they need to follow.
The question was whether the rules were too restrictive.
“I am not against it (golf carts on streets) at all,” said councilman Glenn Gaylord. “If a person has some issue, like health, and can’t drive a car, this could be their only way to get around.”
He suggested they be allowed to go all over town.
Councilman Marty Cassem disagreed, saying the amount of traffic on Main and Seventh streets would make the slow-moving golf carts dangerous to operate there.
And Mayor Rick Scholtes said having golf carts downtown, with diagonal parking, would also be dangerous, with cars backing out of the spaces.
Councilman Dan Warner did not think it would be a problem, even having golf carts parking downtown.
But, city administrator Tim Ibisch disagreed.
“The restrictions are in place to protect the safety of our residents,” Ibisch said. “And there are certain legalities involved in having golf carts on streets.”
That has to do with any vehicle not designed for use on a city street, city attorney David Frundt explained.
One area of concern was North Main Street, where the speed limit is currently 45 mph but will drop to 40 after it is reconstructed this summer.
“I think North Main, in fact all of Main, is a big safety concern,” Ibisch said. “However, there is a plan for a lane on the side that could be used.”
The councilmen suggested contacting the county engineer about lowering the speed limit to less than 40, maybe as low as 30 mph.
“I just don’t see this as an issue,” Gaylord said. “They should be allowed to go anywhere at their own risk. If there is traffic they (the golf carts) will pull over to the side and cars will go by.”
Gaylord added he was not sure the city should even require a permit to use the carts. But Ibisch said that was a way to get the cart drivers to understand the rules and restrictions.
Another question was whether a driver’s license was required, and what age person can drive a cart around town. Can young children drive them, one councilman asked.
“The problem is we don’t license the cart driver, we only license the cart,” councilman Dan Brod said. “Really anyone can be driving it.”
Since it was a work session item, the council did not take any action on changing the ordinance.
In other business at the regular meeting, the council:
Heard a report from Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce executive director Cindy Lyon concerning the recent purchase of a building in front of Giant Park that will be the site of a new Chamber office building.
Passed a resolution that will the city engineer to apply for a grant opportunity for a GIS mapping program.
Learned that the city engineer is getting quotes for replacing not repairing the secondary clarifier at the wastewater treatment plant.
Approved a new Investment Policy that is necessary for the city to continue to have a good bond rating.
Learned that the demolition bids for a house on 12th Street came in very high and staff will be seeking other bids for the work.
Approved a severance and release agreement with public works department employee Hugh Hanson and learned the city will need to hire two new people with the resignation of Scott Scheid.
Approved having the Blue Earth Light and Water Department apply for a $344,000 lease for new lights for the downtown Blue Earth area.