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Potential golf cart ban plan tabled

An effort to prevent golf carts from operating on the streets of Park Rapids through amending an existing city ordinance stalled Tuesday.

The City Council had in front of them at it's Tuesday, April 11 meeting, a resolution amending the current ordinance and decided to table the matter to form a citizen committee which will study the issue further and report back to the council in 30 days.

The council had, at the March 28 meeting, voted 3-2 in favor to move forward with the process but the move to keep golf carts off the street is meeting some public pushback. A number of residents at the March 28 meeting spoke out against the amendment which would make it a violation to operate motorized golf carts on city streets, alleys, sidewalks, or other public property.

The second reading of the resolution was on the agenda for the Tuesday, April 11 meeting and the effect of the amendment is to eliminate the provisions dealing with motorized golf carts. The current ordinance allows such operation by those who obtain a permit from the city after meeting required criteria.

The proposed amendment follows concerns regarding safe operation of golf carts under the current conditions. The city council last year approved a moratorium, as recommended by the then interim police chief, on issuing permits until the ordinance could be amended.

On Tuesday, city Administrator John McKinney recommended the council table the matter and form the citizen committee. McKinney wrote the ordinance, "in addition to motorized golf carts, deals with several other matters regarding the use of the city streets by recreational vehicles, some of which are in need of review and evaluation of what might be in order to insure their use in the city can be done safely for both the recreational vehicles and the other users of the streets and public property."

McKinney stated recreational vehicles is a term that can be used in a broad sense to describe vehicles which are regulated by other agencies and over which the city has different responsibilities than others.

"I am of the opinion that the city might well take this opportunity to review the conditions and uses of all of these vehicles in the city together, rather than one at a time. This may also be an opportunity to study what might be done to assure we are presenting a safe and welcoming environment for all types of vehicles in the city," McKinney wrote in his recommendation.

Although the resolution was on Tuesday's agenda preventing public comment on the issue, former councilman Rod Nordberg, who is against banning golf carts, did quickly address the council saying two-thirds of respondents to a recent Chamber of Commerce survey are in favor of allowing golf carts on city streets.

McKinney recommended to the council that a special committee be appointed to review not just the motorized golf carts, but all recreational vehicles and their operations on the city streets, etc.

The committee will consist of five to nine individuals appointed by the mayor and city staff to review the city and state statutes, ordinances and regulations dealing with the operation and control of recreational vehicles within the city limits. City staff will be available to assist the committee.

In the meantime, the city will accept and process applications for a temporary permit that would allow immediate use of golf carts, subject to meeting the criteria on the application as to equipment and driver capability.

This committee will look at the conditions in the city and the impact on the safe operation of all vehicles and pedestrians on the streets. The committee will follow this up with recommendations to the council for actions or determinations that may be taken which would improve conditions for the safe use of the city streets by such vehicles.

Councilwoman Erika Randall made the motion, seconded by Dick Rutherford, to table the resolution. The motion to table passed unanimously.