MOUNT CARMEL -- Driving around town, residents may see the random golf cart on the streets, sometimes even sidewalks.
The issue is one that the City of Mount Carmel must make a decision on, due to pressure from the state level.
At the last Mount Carmel City Council meeting, Mayor Joe Judge displayed a map with proposed prohibited areas and five crossings, as determined by Judge and Police Chief Ryan Turner.
"The state statute is pretty clear on what the golf carts and UTVs require," said Judge. "We have sample ordinances from Herrin and other places."
City Clerk Rudy Witsman said that the state statute requires carts to have lights, horn, and signals.
"Those things are required for any type of non-highway vehicle that we would allow to be on the city streets," he said. "Right now we have kind of turned our head and let them operate on city streets around the area. They have also driven on the sidewalks. If you enact this, something to think about is are you going to allow them to ride on sidewalks? That is a question I have been asked."
Witsman added that the State statute says that operators also must have insurance and a driver's license.
Commissioner Justin Dulgar stated that he was concerned about one crossing in particular.
"That is going to be really dangerous at 13th and Cherry," he said. "But without that you are basically shutting off that whole northern part of the city."
Turner defended the decision of using the 13th and Cherry crossing.
"That is the best, viable spot to cross for that subdivision," said Turner. "The other is uphill and at a higher rate of speed if you go further down.
Commissioner Tom Meeks asked Turner if the department has had many problems with golf carts.
"No, but like Mr. Witsman said, the department has turned a blind eye," said Turner. "We haven't had any accidents that I know of. But something to think about is that once this law
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goes into effect, then we will be obligated to start enforcing the rules. We have kids going to the golf course now, and I don't think they are doing anything wrong by crossing one road to the golf course, but our hands are going to be tied at that point."
Meeks expressed concern with residents having to pay to make their vehicles street legal, the cost of additional insurance and a registration fee that the City will have to enact.
"I guess I'm old school, but I don't see any reason to do all this stuff."
According to Judge, however, the City will have to make a decision on the matter.
"I have been advised by the Illinois State Police that it currently is illegal because the City of Mount Carmel has not taken a stance on these sanctions," he said. "And at any time they can start ticketing."
Witsman reminded the council that even if an ordinance is put in place to legalize carts on City streets, they will not be allowed on State highways. They can cross the highway at an intersection only.
Judge asked the commissioners to get with Witsman with their thoughts and concerns before a decision on the ordinance will be made.
In other City business
Commissioner Justin Dulgar announced that a new water fountan will be installed at Oak Street for pedestrians as well as dogs.
Dulgar also addressed the infiltration issue in the City. He said that Hydromax will be conducting smoke testing on the system and the City workers will be observing the process.
Mayor Judge said that he received good information at the Cannabis seminar he attended in Springfield and return with information for law enforcement and the council. He is looking forward to more when he attends the second seminar in Chicago in early September.