Golf cart access points discussed during city council

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Lincoln Hills golf-cart drivers may have to take different routes to get to popular destinations in the retirement community by next month. Action about whether to close off a popular golf-cart access point in Lincoln Hills during Tuesday night’s crowded and longer-than- usual City Council meeting was not taken. The council did not take action Tuesday because Councilmen Paul Joiner and Spencer Short said they needed more information regarding the original intent of the access point before deciding whether to close the access point. The issue will be back on the Jan. 12 City Council agenda. The access point in question is located at the end of Fairway Valley Lane and gives access to the Lincoln Hills Golf Course parking lot, according to a staff report prepared by Terry Rodrigue, the city’s interim director of public services. An opening at the end of Fairway Valley Lane has a post in the middle of it to prevent cars from passing through, according to Rodrigue’s staff report. The report also states “in the original map and plans of this project, there is no direct reference as to whether this access point was specifically intended to allow for gold cart access.” The staff report states there is “an emergency vehicle access easement shown on the improvement plans.” Mayor Tom Cosgrove told The News Messenger Friday there is “no formal easement for emergency vehicle access” and “so far, research has shown it was never dedicated to emergency vehicles.” Rodrigue said in the staff report Fairway Valley Lane residents have raised concerns over the number of golf carts accessing the Lincoln Hills Golf Course parking lot. The result of a traffic count done on Sept. 11 was provided for the council, and “indicates 518 golf carts during a 24-hour period,” according to the staff report. Half of the 70 seats were filled during the meeting by Sun City residents attending because of this issue. Snickering, laughter and comments could be heard while some members of the public spoke on the golf cart issue, and came from the section of seats filled with Sun City residents who may or may not have agreed with comments being made by the speakers. “We are a golf cart community and I think the people involved in this are not thinking about the community as a whole,” said Lincoln Hills resident Karl Schoenstein before the discussion. Sherm Waldman, a Lincoln Hills resident who would not like to see the closure of the access point, told The News Messenger Friday that the access point is located on Fairway Valley Lane and “provides access to our golf course, restaurant, lodge and fitness center.” Mike McElroy, who lives on Fairway Valley Lane, said during Tuesday’s meeting there are “four major arteries with NEV lanes that provide ways to the gym and shopping.” He said the access point has “created a constant flow of vehicles” on his street and added “many of the users feel they don’t have to obey laws and don’t know how unsafe and congested it’s made the neighborhood.” “What do people lose with this action? They don’t save any time,” McElroy said. “It is safer to go through the main entrances and I ask you to make (Fairway Valley Lane) a ‘not a through street.’” According to Waldman, the Fairway Valley Lane access point is a safer route for golf carts, compared to the alternative, which is Del Webb Boulevard. “That location is the center of the community between the north and south (of Sun City Lincoln Hills,) and 3,300 people on the south have the opportunity of using that point instead of the main street,” Waldman said. The Del Webb Boulevard and Sun City Boulevard intersection is “the busiest intersection,” according to Waldman, because he said it is “more traveled and unsafe.” During Tuesday’s meeting, Cosgrove said the Lincoln police department reported “there were zero accidents at access points and access points designed for traffic.” “The safety issue is based on comfort,” Cosgrove said. Cosgrove said Friday the houses on Fairway Valley Lane used to be model homes and the access point was used by sales people showing the homes and amenities featured at Sun City Lincoln Hills. “As I hear from residents, (the Fairway Valley Lane access point) became a convenient way for folks with golf carts to get into the facilities,” Cosgrove said. “The bigger question is was it intended to carry this level of traffic as a neighborhood street.” James Bennison, who said during the meeting he didn’t “anticipate hundreds of golf carts going by the front door” when he bought the house, and “the only solution is to close the opening,” told The News Messenger after the meeting he was disappointed a decision was not made during the meeting. “It’s been going on too long,” Bennison said. “We weren’t sure which way they would go but we hoped for a decision.”