Marion might soon be offering residents another option for getting around their neighborhoods and in town.
The city council discussed at its Aug. 18 meeting an option that would include golf carts and all-terrain vehicles. But council members are also seeking input from the community.
Marion Police Chief Tyler Mermis presented the idea to the council after discussing it with other officers and Roger Holter, city administrator.
“I think this is something we should try,” he said, “and if it fails, we can always rescind it, but I am hoping it doesn’t fail.”
Mermis said he researched and talked to law enforcement officials in Peabody, Ellinwood and Hoisington, where these types of vehicles are legal on city streets.
Holter said, while there are certain routes these vehicles cannot travel on, such as any U.S. or Kansas highways, there are alternatives.
“ATVs can’t go on the west end of Main Street to the east end by the golf course,” he said.
State statute, he said, does allow crossing perpendicular, but not parallel.
It would mean having to find a route to get ATV drivers up and down the hill without using Kansas Highway 256.
Councilor Jerry Dieter asked how a golf cart could get to the golf course under those circumstances.
According to Mermis, the route could be to drive up Lawrence and Denver streets or even Kellison and cross the intersection there.
Holter said: “(The intent) would be to move from south hill further north, but keep traffic where they will be safest.”
The maximum weight of these ATVs is 1,800 pounds, he said, and we have 80,000 pound vehicles going down Main Street.
“We are trying to create that buffer zone—separation between two (types) of traffic—it will be an educational process.”
In addition to the traffic, Holter said the proposed ordinance allowing the ATVs will have “some strong teeth” for people to understand and for their safety.
The third strike in the ordinance is seizure of the vehicle for those who don’t realize they are competing in an 1,800-pound vehicle versus and 80,000-pound vehicle.
“We don’t want to legislate common sense,” he said.
Mermis said the city will need to educate citizens about proper licensing and inspections of all special-purpose vehicles.
The educational process will include the kind of equipment that should be on the vehicle, annual registration and proper maintenance.
“The last thing we need is a vehicle or lights that don’t brake properly,” Mermis said.
Councilor Chad Adkins asked if there would be a fee. “Yes,” Mermis said, “it would be $100 annually.”
Adkins also said he understood the purpose and that it would be a good thing for someone to be able to get their golf cart out of the garage and drive it to the golf course.
“But,” he said, “I don’t understand the purpose of ATVs driving around the streets.”
Mermis said: “If we grant these permits and someone is driving full bore (down Freeborn Street or elsewhere), that person will lose their privileges.”
Fines would be set by the judge, Holter said, and could range on a first offense from $100 to $500; second from $250 to $1,000 and third from $250 to $1,000 and seizure of the vehicle.
“We are still going to have people violate the law,” Mermis said, “but that is why we are here.”
The council, in other business:
• recognized Joy Waldbauer, Skye Young and Allysa Young for their community service at Liberty Park. Mayor Todd Heitschmidt thanked the three for volunteering to repaint the 911 mural.
• thanked 15 Tabor College freshmen for their help Aug. 16 by participating in service day.
• appointed Tiffany Jeffrey as the new city clerk, replacing Woodrow Crawshaw, who resigned Aug. 15.