La Salle council continues UTV discussion, police chief against idea of these vehicles on city streets

Proposition will be further discussed May 17

La Salle Police Chief Mike Smudzinski said liability is a concern if the City Council votes to approve the use of golf carts and UTVs on city streets.

“We’ve got so many roads that you can’t even get around sometimes on a dang car it’s so crowded,” Smudzinski said. “We’ve got two state highways and the rules that you would have to put into effect, how are we going to enforce that?”

The council continued its discussion on the issue Monday.

During the April 19 meeting, the council voted to gather more information and continue its talks after needing a tie-breaking vote from Mayor Jeff Grove.

Alderman Jim Bacidore opened the discussion Monday by mentioning he has spoken with residents around town in the past few weeks and he has heard mostly objection to allowing these vehicles.

Bacidore said other cities in Illinois, such as Dixon, have made statements on Facebook regarding some issues they have had with drivers of the non-traditional city vehicles failing to follow the laws. Dixon was previously brought up by a resident as an example of a community that has implemented a non-highway vehicle ordinance.

Smudzinski added he is worried about the limitations placed on these vehicles involving state highways and the possibility of someone in a non-highway vehicle getting injured because of where they would be driven.

Smudzinski mentioned he could possibly get behind these vehicles being allowed in small subdivisions such as Vermilionvue only. This approach has been implemented in certain areas of Ottawa, the council acknowledged.

As far as enforcement, Smudzinski brought a key point to the table as La Salle shares a border with neighboring Peru in many locations. He foresees individuals driving the vehicles across the border into where they are not allowed in Peru.

“We’re right next to Peru, how are we going to enforce that?” Smudzinski said. “We’ll have people getting on and then they are going into Peru and then Peru is going to be dealing with them. I don’t like the idea at all. I think it’s going to cause problems.”

Alderman Diz Demes said he proposed the continued discussion after it was denied by the Streets, Alleys and Traffic Committee in the attempt to establish an ordinance to control the population of motorized bicycles that can be found across the city.

He said he believes these are becoming a bigger issue in La Salle and would like to see something established to help them control the issue with possible registration or punishment for disobeying the possible ordinance.

La Salle Resident Roger Frederick spoke in favor of allowing non-highway vehicles in the city citing speed limits on the vehicles and time restraints that can be added in a possible ordinance.

“I don’t have a golf cart, I have nothing invested in this but I would like to see it,” Frederick said. “I might want to get one some day and drive it around town. Yes it’s enjoyable, a nice slow moving vehicle, it’s not super fast but a nice little enjoyable ride around town.”

Frederick and Bacidore went back and forth on many points in the issue as concerns were brought up from drinking and driving to speeding to what the vehicles will be used for.

La Salle Resident Chet Phillips also added his words against the non-highway vehicles before the council closed the discussion.

“I live on one of the busiest corners in La Salle, we sat there one night and saw 60 cars go through the stop sign,” Phillips said. “You add slow moving vehicles to that mix, it’s more of a burden on the police department.”

Alderman Jordan Crane thanked Smudzinski for doing the groundwork to speak with surrounding cities and said if anything was going to be put in place they would need cooperation with Peru.

Many alderman’s opinions were inconclusive Monday as more work still needs to be done moving forward on all sides of the proposition.

Motorized bicycles, UTVs and golf carts all are unique types of vehicles that will all need to be addressed individually in the council elects to make any changes moving forward.

The discussion will continue Monday, May 17, starting in the Streets, Alleys and Traffic Committee Meeting at 6 p.m. after the finance meeting. Following the discussion it will then be brought in front of the regular City Council, while no vote is expected at this time.

Jayce Eustice

Covering local government, breaking news and whatever is thrown at me for the La Salle News Tribune