What: Town trustees discuss allowing golf carts on Erie's streets
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Erie Town Hall, 645 Holbrook St.
ERIE -- This town of nearly 20,000 people is no retirement community, but some folks may mistake it for one if elected leaders pass a measure Tuesday night that allows people to drive golf carts on public roads.
The town trustees are considering an ordinance that would allow the electric vehicles -- identified with easy resort-style living -- on any street in town that has a posted speed limit of 25 mph.
Erie would become the second community in Boulder County to allow golf carts in town. Lyons passed a similar ordinance last year.
"I am excited at the prospect of empowering citizens with freedoms such as this rather than restricting them," Mayor Joe Wilson wrote in an e-mail to the Camera.
Retirement is hardly the vision the town is trying to project with its golf cart ordinance. For many who favor the vehicles, it's about providing people with an inexpensive, fuel-efficient way to make short trips around town.
Julie Pate-Gurule, a resident of Vista Ridge, said she is excited at the prospect of being able to quickly hop in a golf cart and drive to the clubhouse for dinner or pick her child up from school without firing up her car's engine.
"What makes it appealing to me is that it's more environmentally friendly," she said.
Trustee Ronda Grassi said electric golf carts -- referred to in the ordinance as "golf cars" -- are more nimble than cars and trucks, require far less space for parking and emit no pollutants.
"Why do we keep creating seas of asphalt for parking lots when no one is buying anything?" she asked.
Harold Schultes, a sales representative at Mile High Golf Cars in Frederick, said he has already received inquiries from a couple of Erie residents about his inventory. Mile High Golf Cars is the closest golf cart dealership to Erie.
"It'll hopefully help out the golf cart business, which hasn't been doing that great in the last few years," he said.
He said the golf carts at his dealership are priced as low as $1,500.
To bring unlicensed golf carts from private property use on to Erie's public roadways necessitates a list of safety requirements.
Golf cart drivers will need to be licensed drivers, at least 21 years old and carry liability insurance. The carts themselves will have to come equipped with headlights, turn signals, mirrors, a front windshield, a parking brake, seat belts and a "slow-moving vehicle" sign.
And while downing a case of beer with friends between holes may be de rigueur behavior on the golf course, it won't be acceptable on Erie's roads.
In Lyons, Sgt. Kevin Parker of the Boulder County Sheriff's Office said he has already had to issue two tickets for drunken driving to people in golf carts.
"Their first question is: 'What is going on here? I'm driving my golf cart,'" Parker said.
Overall, though, there has been barely a problem with Lyons' golf carts, which now number around 20, either in terms of traffic slowdowns or collisions, Parker said.
In Erie, where the sprawling town covers 48 square miles in two counties, the measure's stipulation that golf carts cannot go on bike paths and are restricted to roads that have a speed limit of 25 mph has caused concern.
Last month, during a discussion on the issue, Trustee Grassi said that approach could threaten to disrupt connectivity between neighborhoods in Erie. Some residents might find themselves sequestered to their own communities and unable to reach shops and commercial areas in town because all roads out of the neighborhood are posted higher than 25 mph.
Grassi said she'd like to see her colleagues consider a dedicated lane for golf carts on some of the town's major arterials so that people in more far-flung neighborhoods have a way to get to the post office or to the community center in their golf carts.
The trustees will hear from the public Tuesday night during a second reading of the ordinance.
"If we create something fun here, people will think it's a fun place to live," Grassi said.