JHorseshoe Bend may soon have more drivers on its city streets but that does not mean more cars, according to Horseshoe Bend Mayor Bob Barnes, who is in support of a new city ordinance allowing golf carts to drive the roads.
Barnes said he was once very opposed to the idea but due to new economic issues and an improved plan to implement such a resolution, he said he has warmed up to the idea.
"People have talked to me about it for about two years. Personally, I had been against it due to the safety factor because golf carts are not that visible, kind of like a motorcycle to a certain extent. Plus, they do not run that fast," he said.
"I was real concerned about some of these curves, a dump truck or even a car coming around the curve. They might not see the cart and hit them. So, for that reason I was pretty much against it," Barnes said.
Although Barnes was against the idea of unrestricted legal cart driving on city roads, there is an exception on the books, he said.
"We do have a city ordinance intact right now that gives people that play golf the right to ride them from their house to the most direct route to the golf course. They have to have a fluorescent orange flag on them between 6- and 7-foot high. The flag must have 60 square inches of fluorescent orange," Barnes said.
The new ordinance, if approved would allow cart drivers to travel anywhere in the city, making short trips to places such as the supermarket more affordable. This and new safety requirements are the key factors that changed Barnes' mind, he said.
"Do to the price of gas and all that, I have decided that it would be a good idea to let the people drive the carts. They couldn't drive them on the state highway. Cart drivers would have to keep them on the city roads. Beyond that, I think they should go one step further and definitely have headlights, tail lights and turn signals," Barnes said.
For cart drivers wanting to use city streets the safety additions are necessary and some say quite affordable.
"You can buy the kits. I know one of the city council members said he used to work at a golf cart place and said it was very expensive. A guy in the audience said that he had ordered the safety equipment from a golf cart book and it was very inexpensive," Barnes said.
"So, there again, I think if they are going to drive the cart on the roads they need to make it as safe as possible and be as visible as possible," he said. "At $4 a gallon gas it could make a lot of difference if someone was going from their house to the grocery store. It could be a savings."
The steps required to pass the ordinance are relatively easy to take, Barnes said.
"We would have to adopt a city ordinance and put down the requirements we expect to be followed. Then it would be voted on by the city council," Barnes said.
Barnes added, if it goes to vote, due to the nature of the issue and the possible savings involved, the emergency clause would be invoked allowing the issue to pass on the first reading instead of the standard three.
"In fact, we are even looking here at the water department about buying a scooter or something to ride around checking water meters on," he said.
"Everybody is starting to look at someway they can cut back on expense, with gas and all this affecting everyone's budget. I know it is affecting our police department and road department. We're hitting our budgets and the year is just half over," Barnes said.
With tourism acting as a corner stone of the Horseshoe Bend economy, Barnes also said he believes seeing golf carts on city streets will be a positive reflection of life in Horseshoe Bend.
Another possible addition to Horseshoe Bend is a new emergency siren Barnes said.
"We have got six sirens in the city the way it is now," Barnes said.
"We did some research a while back and storm sirens are designed for daytime use only, when the people are outside," he said. "We have a lot of people argue, some say they can hear them and some say they can't. Over on the west side of town, basically in Ward Three, there is not a storm siren over there," Barnes said.
Barnes said he plans to get researchers to come in and do testing like the city had done when the existing emergency sirens were put in place.
"That way we can see if they feel like that area had been covered or not," he said.
"I live fairly close to the large siren up on top of Turkey Mountain and seldom do I ever hear it. Saturday night and Sunday morning lightning set one of them off in the mobile home park and I actually heard it; a guy in the park said he didn't. So, you end up with a lot of debate, good, bad or indifferent. The real purpose of the siren and what they were designed for was for daytime use because they assume if you're at home at night and you've got your television on you have other measures to be alerted by," Barnes said.
Barnes said he plans to investigate the installation of a seventh emergency siren in Ward Three.