Golf carts to be prohibited after close vote at council

T-R PHOTOS BY JOE FISHER — Councilman Gary Thompson motioned to adopt an ordinance prohibiting golf carts on city streets. The motion passed after a close vote.

The days of the golf cart on public roadways in Marshalltown are coming to an end.

On Monday night, the city council narrowly voted to prohibit the small, motorized buggies after approving an ordinance to ban off-road vehicles on city streets in August. This ordinance passed its first reading Monday, and golf carts were discussed at the suggestion of councilman Gary Thompson.

“If we ban the (all-terrain vehicle), we need to ban golf carts too,” he said. “I can’t see having one without having the others.”

Councilors lined up on both sides of the debate, with some in favor of allowing golf carts and some opposed. Jeff Schneider was the most vocal in favor of leaving the ordinance alone and continuing to allow golf carts.

“These are legal today already,” he said. “It’s not like we’re introducing a new novelty.”

City Administrator Jessica Kinser presents a general obligation borrowing proposal for fiscal year 2023 with the city council. Kinser highlighted three projects which could be eligible for a state grant.

Schneider added that he is in favor of requiring licensing, insurance and safety precautions to increase the visibility of the vehicles. He asked Police Chief Mike Tupper if there were any golf cart accidents in the last 10 years. Tupper said he was unaware of any but could not say for sure.

Tupper was in agreement with Thompson about golf carts being treated the same as ATVs and UTVs.

City Administrator Jessica Kinser presented two ordinance options: one to keep golf carts and the other to prohibit them. Schneider motioned for the ordinance to keep golf carts.

“It’s a hard sell, in my opinion, to tell the public a golf car is legal, but their ATV is not,” Thompson said.

Schneider’s motion was seconded but failed by a 4-3 vote with Thompson, Mike Ladehoff, Barry Kell and Al Hoop voting against.

Police Chief Mike Tupper shares his position on golf carts being allowed on the streets during Monday’s council meeting. Tupper said he is willing to do what the council wishes but is worried about public safety.

Thompson then motioned for the ordinance to prohibit golf carts. The ordinance will allow for exemptions for parades and special events or any public safety or city-service related use. The motion passed by the same vote.

Schneider proposed an amendment to the ordinance which would allow golf courses to transport golf carts as they currently do. The amendment was deemed unnecessary by staff as Kinser said there was a general understanding that golf tournaments are considered special events.

The golf cart ordinance was a discussion item and still needs to go through a formal adoption process before going into effect.

In other business

Kinser and the city council began discussions about the city’s general obligation borrowing. Kinser presented a borrowing proposal for fiscal year 2023, outlining projects to borrow for. Three projects were highlighted as potential Destination Iowa projects.

Destination Iowa is a state program that funds tourism projects with $100 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden in 2021.

A $20 million portion of this funding is dedicated to a pilot project for “Creative Placemaking designation.” This will fund projects in two to three communities. To qualify as an applicant, public projects must be 50 percent funded. If Marshalltown were to win a grant from Destination Iowa, it would receive support of up to 40 percent of project costs.

The three projects proposed to be part of the Destination Iowa application are the splash pad, a trail bridge at Linn Creek and the River’s Edge trailhead.

The council did not take action on general obligation borrowing or the Destination Iowa application. These discussions will continue at the Sept. 26 meeting.


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