BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – City leaders continue to entertain the thought of allowing golf carts, and possibly ATVs and UTVs on city streets.
The issue was back on the council agenda at Tuesday night’s meeting after City Councilman Matt Mohrfeld brought the issue up two weeks ago.
Councilman Chris Greenwald, Kevin Rink and Mohrfeld made comments in favor of moving forward with the discussion, while Bob Morawitz advocated against allowing the vehicles on city streets.
The council voted 6-1 to move forward and have city staff draft an ordinance to bring back to the council for further discussion at a future meeting. Any ordinance would require three readings before being approved.
“We had this before and we voted it down. They safety issues haven’t changed and I’m not in favor it,” Morawitz said.
Mohrfeld countered with the argument that the environment has changed now with Lee County and West Point having adopted ordinances allowing permitted vehicles operated by licensed drivers. He also said Fairfield allows the vehicles.
Mohrfeld said he favored allowing the vehicles on all city streets except for Business 61 and only from dawn to dusk.
“They need to adhere to all our city driving codes, speed limits, stop signs, right of ways. They cannot operate on sidewalks and would have to park like a vehicle. They can’t go on the PORT trail, but I would suggest keeping them off of Business 61.”
Mark Lair agreed with Morawitz that the city has been down this road before and the people didn’t want those vehicles on the street.
“We’ve been through this once already and people told us they did not want it,” Lair said.
“They are still telling me, most of the people I’ve talked to are telling me, they do not want it.”
Greenwald said he’d heard of constituents who told him they didn’t want the boat to come that just docked at the riverfront Tuesday morning.
“But you were elected by the people, for the people, to the do the job they want,” Lair countered.
Greenwald said he wasn’t voted to do the will of the people but to make the best decision with the information he has in front of him.
Morawitz said it also comes down to additional enforcement for the police department.
“I don’t know if we have enough police officers,” Morawitz said.
Greenwald said it wouldn’t be the end of the world either way the council moves on the issue.
“And the thing to remember is the floodgates aren’t going to open and there’s not going to be a hundred golf carts on the streets,” Greenwald said.
In an unrelated agenda item, the council asked City Manager David Varley to reaffirm the city’s intention to donate the Idol Rashid Building to the Fort Madison Food Pantry.
The issue was put back on because a family member with the Rashid family, who has final approval of any transfers of the building, would rather see the building go to the Head Start program through Community Action. Giving the building to the Head Start would leave the food pantry without a local home.
Lair asked if the city could give the property back to the Rashid family to do with as they please. Varley said he didn’t think giving the building to the food pantry, by way of Lee County, was off the table yet.
In other action, the council:
• approved signing an application for a REAP grant for additional funds for the Phase IV of the P.O.R.T. trail 48th street connection.
• approved a resolution to set a public hearing to order construction for Old Highway 61 from 2nd Street to 6th Street. The project was scheduled to begin in the fall, but Mayor Brad Randolph hinted that it probably should begin next year.
• approved a resolution appointing Jane Bartlett to the city’s Library Board and Mary Whitcomb to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
• approved spending $3,650 for an inspection of the pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks near the depot.