by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher
Although not on the September 7, 2021 agenda, the use of golf carts on City streets became the primary focus during the Public Comments portion of the meeting. An unnamed citizen rose to complain that under the current Golf Cart Ordinance, mandatory restrictions prevents her from using her $18,000 golf cart.
Since City Attorney Malcolm Jones had already left the meeting, Ward 4 Alderman Victor Pickich was left to explain how the golf cart ordinance was developed in accordance with guidelines established by the Mississippi Legislature back in 2018. The law mandates certain requirements to include public streets that have a maximum 25 miles per hour (MPH) speed limit. This means that citizens that live in certain areas can’t get to downtown due to higher speed limits.
Several Board members like Ward 1 Alderwoman Betty Sparkman and Alderman Pickich voiced their support for expanding the use of golf carts throughout the City. To accomplish this, the City would have to reduce the speed limit to 25 mph.
Alderman Pickich commented, “Ok I think it can be done after a full review of the golf cart ordinance by the Chief of Police and Board of Alderman. We need to remap the golf cart route throughout our city to include the entire city.” Alderwoman Betty Sparkman added, “Time after time, I’ve heard from East Second Street residents that they want the cars to slow down. Changing the speed limit to a consistent 25 mph will help. I also want to work with the Police and Fire Chief on some other traffic calming measures.”
The remainder of the Board stated that they would wait until Pass Christian Police Chief Daren Freeman could conduct a golf cart traffic study before making a decision regard this issue. In addition to wanting to hear Chief Freeman’s recommendation, some of the Board members also wanted to hear an opinion from City Attorney Malcom Jones to make sure that the current state statute allows City’s to make changes to their golf ordinance.
Several residents in attendance which remained anonymous commented, “Public roads are built for cars and not golf carts. Why should the rest of us be inconvenienced by golf cart users. I sure wish I could afford an $18,000 golf cart.”
Others commented about safety concerns, the abuse of underage drivers, golf cart drivers that are already going way below the speed limit which further slows down traffic, golf cart drivers ignoring stop signs, etc.
Routine business included approval of the use of and waiver of rental fees for the Pass Christian Library’s use of War Memorial Park on October 10, 2021 for their “One Book, One Pass” Poetry in the Park for Pizza Program, Delisle Elementary School’s use of War Memorial Park on November 13, 2021 for an event to promote kindness and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon’s use of the park at their annual running event on December 12, 2021.
In the personnel arena, the Board voted unanimously to reappoint Dr. Chuck Wood to the Gulf Regional Planning Commission Board; Bradford Manus was selected as the new Beautification Director with Ward 2 Alderwoman commenting that Manus was the right “man for the job.”
Resignations included Brandon Reynolds, Dispatcher and Police Officer Jeffrey Klemmer; both from the Police Department, Public Works hired John Zander as an Operator II and Kevin Johnson as a Laborer I and the Police Department hired Kristi Aguilar to fill a vacant Dispatcher position.
Approved investment of taxpayer money included $17,950 for floor repairs in the east side of City Hall; $23,625 to DNA Underground for Seaside Oaks Drainage Improvements; $160,684 to K & G Crane and Marine for installation of wood fillers in the PC Small Craft Harbor; $63,099 to Otis Elevator Company to repair damages to the Harbor office elevator from Hurricane Zeta; $450 monthly maintenance contract with Otis Elevator Company; $77,431.31 to Public Rents for a 306 Caterpillar mini excavator for Public Works so they can better clean City ditches and $541,672 in Claims Docket Expenses.
The Board opted to table the proposed $500 per year gym membership for City Firefighters with Top Guns until a price can be obtained for allowing all City employees to use the gym; an Emergency Management Assistance Contract (EMAC) between the State of Mississippi and State of Louisiana for Hurricane Ida support, apparently the Fire Chief and several firefighters went to provide hurricane relief without permission from the Board and a $4,826.10 bill from Urban Development Toolbox, LL (Laurence Leyens) for work done on Gulf Coast Restoration Fund Grants.
Alderman at Large Kenny Torgeson expressed his concerns that “this is the first that I‘ve heard of this”. The City has budgeted $40,000 in fiscal year 2021-2022 for grant support from Leyens but Alderman Torgeson was questioning this unexpected expense for fiscal year 2020-2021.
The next Board of Alderman meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at the City Court/Auditorium.