WELLSBURG — Wellsburg council members have mixed opinions about the possible use of golf carts on certain city streets, but a vote by Mayor Dan Dudley allowed debate on the topic to continue.
On Tuesday, the council voted 4-4 on the proposed order, forcing Dudley to play his role in severing those ties.
Dudley said there were a few issues to address, but voting in favor of the ordinance, as he did, allows it to be postponed for a second reading.
2nd Ward council members Paul Billiard and Mary Margaret Ross, 4th Ward councilman Della Serevicz, and 1st Ward councilman Jack Kins supported the ordinance.
4th Ward Councilman Charlie Harris, 3rd Ward Councilors Randy Fletcher and Tom Gaudio, and 1st Ward Councilman Jerry Nichols voted against.
Dudley said naysayers were concerned about the carts’ impact on other traffic. He said some have suggested the carts could be driven illegally in city parks at a time when authorities are already dealing with automobiles doing the same thing.
The mayor said he also had some reservations. They include whether the number of passengers should be specified, especially since teens with driving licenses would be allowed to use them.
But Dudley said the transportation option could attract new residents and visitors to Wellsburg.
Billiard said he suggested the move because golf carts have proven popular and in other communities and he’s heard from local residents who would like to use them.
If approved, the carts could not be driven on streets with a speed limit of more than 25 miles per hour or otherwise deemed unsafe by the council or chief constable.
Golf cart drivers would be permitted on State Road 2 only to cross it from its intersections with Sixth, Seventh, 12th, 16th, 22nd and 27th Streets, then would have to come to a complete stop before turning while yielding the right of way to all oncoming traffic.
Golf cart drivers would be required to register them annually with the city, along with showing proof of liability insurance, and would receive a license and sticker for their carts.
There have been discussions about whether the city should charge a fee for the permit, but no fee is included in the current order.
It says the permit can be revoked if the cart operator has violated state or local traffic laws, including failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians and cyclists; or its owner has allowed someone without a license to operate it or has been deemed by the Chief of Police unable to operate it safely.
The ordinance also requires trucks to be equipped with headlights and taillights if used at night, a parking brake, a rear-view mirror and an exhaust system.
It also specifies, “The number of passengers the golf cart is designed to accommodate must not be exceeded.”
Noting that there are golf cart communities elsewhere in West Virginia and neighboring states, Billiard said, “I think it’s a good thing for the community.”
He said the use of golf carts would be convenient for many residents, including seniors, while reducing pollution and the parking space required.
“I already had two or three people who said, I want to have one”, he said, adding that he thought golf carts would catch on with others over time.
The ordinance is scheduled for second reading at the Dec. 7 council meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
Matters concerning upcoming holiday events were also on the council’s agenda.
The panel authorized the Wellsburg Chamber of Commerce to hold its Christmas Parade at 4 p.m. Nov. 26 on Charles Street. Those interested in participating should call Eric Fithyan, the event chair, at (304) 737-3551 by Friday.
Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus are to appear next in the town square, where the chamber also plans to offer activities for children.
The Council also authorized Angela Staffileno and others to hold the second Wellsburg Winter Wonderland Hometown Holiday Market from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on November 27 in Central Park. The event should include music, food trucks and other vendors, and activities for children.
The council also agreed to allocate $3,850 for the launch of fireworks on New Year’s Eve.
Dudley said the town’s New Year’s Ball would also be scrapped, continuing a tradition interrupted last year by the pandemic.