City may take a swing at parking woes with golf carts

Mayor asks committee to consider allowing carts, maybe UTVs in downtown to shuttle people to popular spots
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

Golf carts and perhaps utility terrain vehicles could someday sooon be seen traveling through downtown Port Washington, shuttling people from place to place.

Mayor Ted Neitzke on Tuesday asked the city’s Traffic Safety Committee to look into ways to allow these vehicles in downtown Port as valet or concierge services.

“The number one complaint we get is about parking,” he said.

While studies have shown the city has adequate parking downtown, he said, it’s sometimes difficult to park near the lakefront or near shops.

“It boils down to convenience and access,” Neitzke said. “We’ve got all this parking on this side of town, but it’s about getting from here to there.”

He cited fishermen and visiting boaters as prime examples of people who would use a valet service.

Fishermen could park away from the marina, then use a QR code to call for a golf cart to transfer them and their equipment to the marina, Neitzke said.

And visiting boaters who don’t have transportation would be able to get around the downtown easier as well, he said.

These vehicles could also be handy for people with disabilities to get around the lakefront, Neitzke said.

Neitzke said he doesn’t intend to have the city offer valet or concierge services but instead to tailor the city’s laws to allow a private business to offer these services.

He said he was inspired to ask the committee to investigate the use of these vehicles by the many people who have asked why marina and parks department employees are allowed to use them to get from place to place while residents and visitors cannot.

Many tourist communities allow people to use vehicles such as golf carts to get around, Neitzke said, adding they help decrease the number of accidents, especially alcohol-related incidents, and increase revenue.

But, he warned, there are significant hurdles to be jumped before these vehicles will be seen on city streets.

“The biggest hurdle is we have a state highway running through downtown,” Neitzke said, referring to Franklin Street, which is Highway 32.

State law doesn’t allow these vehicles to drive on state highways, he said, although they can cross them. That would mean people could drive golf carts on the side streets, crossing Franklin Street to get to the lakefront.

The city would also need to consider the criteria people would have to meet to get a license to drive carts in downtown, he said, adding his intent is to allow valet and concierge services.

“I don’t want any random citizens zipping around the streets,” he said.

The city would also need to consider how many of these vehicles it will allow, Neitzke added.

He said he would prefer the city only consider allowing golf carts, and only in the downtown.

“I’d really like to see this happen,” Neitzke said.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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