The Coastal Star

By Antigone Barton

GULF STREAM — The troubles that follow youth and wheels know no borders, and so, in December, Gulf Stream town commissioners discussed the need to crack down on those who would turn town streets into a playground.

The issue, here, however, was not drag-racing muscle cars or cruising Camaros, but golf carts. Or, as Mayor William Koch put it, citing a spate of recent complaints: “The problem of these kids driving golf carts down the streets, over lawns, some without driver licenses.”

Part of the problem was said to come from Gulf Stream School students seeking entertainment while waiting for their rides home.

“The problem is the parents aren’t taking it seriously,” Commissioner Joan Orthwein said. “The problem is the parents don’t think it’s a problem.”

But the wayward ways of youth and the indulgence of their parents was just part of the problem, commissioners found, as they considered a spate of dangerous-driving complaints that have been presented to the mayor and police chief.

Residents who drive golf carts while walking their dogs are another part of the problem. That answer to exercise-free canine ownership has led to reports of brake-slamming encounters when a startled car driver belatedly sees the leash connecting a cart on one side of the road to the dog moseying near the hedge on the other side.

“There are some people with disabilities who can’t walk their dogs without a golf cart,” one of two residents attending the December meeting offered, giving the example of a woman who relies on her golf cart to accompany her dog’s outings because “she can’t walk.”

This prompted a commissioner to inquire how she cleans up after the pet, to which the resident replied, “she walks over and picks it up.”

Enforcing town code, which permits only those with driver licenses to tool around in golf carts, could address at least half the problem, town Police Chief Garrett Ward said.

But, Town Attorney John “Skip” Randolph said, that code is unenforceable because it conflicts with state law that allows those 14 and older to ride the carts.

Commissioners agreed to revisit the issue, with an aim to reconciling code with law.

“If you banned them, that would be the end of it,” Ward suggested.

“I think you’d have a revolution if you banned golf carts,” Orthwein answered. “I don’t even want to go there.”

In the meantime, Koch promised a stern mention of the matter in the town newsletter.

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