To help residents combat rising gas prices, Hobart's city council approved an ordinance to allow licensed drivers to operate golf carts on city streets.



 

  To help residents combat rising gas prices, Hobart's city council approved an ordinance to allow licensed drivers to operate golf carts on city streets.

The ordinance approved this week will take effect on Aug. 31.

"I thought it was a pretty neat idea," Hobart Police Chief Dale Uptergrove said. "I don't think it will increase our workload all that much. There are probably some older folks in town who are on tight budgets that this might help."

Retiree Kent Preston first pitched the idea to use electric-powered golf carts around Hobart to City Manager Wilt Brown. Preston stumbled onto the thought about a year ago when a close friend began to battle macular degeneration. He watched as driving became a serious issue.

"I thought a golf cart would be a good way to get around," Preston said. "Then gas prices hit $4 a gallon. It just seemed to make sense for the older generation, and being that we live in a small enough town, it all seemed to fit.

"I thought Hobart would make a great golf cart community."

Preston soon found himself standing before the city council with a written proposal for an ordinance. The council will first fine-tune the ordinance Aug. 11, stipulating the requirements of the ordinance before citizens begin zipping around the downtown square.

Permits are expected to cost $10 per driver. Council members also are expected to require seat belts, limit usage to daytime hours and ban any carts from highways.

"This is a progressive move for Hobart," said Stephen Boyd, director of the town's chamber of commerce.

"Our courthouse square downtown is quite beautiful, and a lot of our shops are located in that downtown district. Golf carts would fit in perfectly."

Hobart has two stores that sell and service golf carts.

"Gas prices are just killing us," Brown said. "Our fuel costs with the city are about 50 percent higher than it was three years ago. It's crazy."

 

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.