Napoleon council rejects golf course trail fee

Recent Article from the Northwest Signal

Napoleon City Council Monday rejected a recommendation by the Napoleon Parks and Recreation Board concerning a trail fee for personal golf carts at the golf course.

Council unanimously voted down the ordinance 0-6, with Councilman Ross Durham absent.

The issue was brought up last month to the board for discussion by Napoleon Parks and Recreation Director Tony Cotter at the behest of a member of council.

The board proposed charging half of whatever the fee for a golf cart rental would be normally, depending on the category. For instance, it would be half of what the normal nine-hole rate would be.

Two weeks ago, council seemed to be in favor of the fee, though Councilwoman Lori Siclair did say she talked to a resident who didn’t like the idea of paying money to get their golf cart licensed and approved to be driven on city streets, then having to pay the trail fee.

Council even directed Law Director Billy Harmon to draft the legislation, which it unanimously rejected Monday night.

“I have had some time to think about this,” Siclair said. “I’ve had some conversation with a resident looking forward to getting his cart street legal … and was disappointed he would be charged on top of the green’s fee because as a taxpayer he is already contributing to the golf course.”

She added it seems like the city might be trying to fix a problem that doesn’t need fixed at this point.

“I would rather be in favor, rather than charging this year and re-evaluating next year, not charging this year and then re-evaluating next year and seeing how much traffic we get and if there is more maintenance needed then we can talk about charging at that point,” Siclair said.

Council President Joe Bialorucki agreed, and pointed out Cotter said less than a handful of times has the issue arisen at the course.

“It’s almost like we’re going to deter people (from using them),” Bialorucki said. “We passed that you can drive them on the street if you get them licensed and everything, but now we’re going to charge you if you bring them to the course.”

During the last council meeting, Cotter said he believed when the private carts were brought last year, they were charged the full cart rental rate.

City Manager Joel Mazur said most golf courses do not allow private golf carts to be brought onto their facilities, and those that do charge a trail fee.

Council also received an update from a representative from a group trying to raise money to renovate the John L. Johnson Auditorium.

The group has until June of 2022 to procure an occupancy permit or the building will have to be torn down. The goal is to raise about $1.1 million, but it also inherited about $100,000 in debt.

The representative said about $50,000 has been raised since the new group took over in November, and $47,000 of that went toward debt payment.

In other business, council:

Approved first reading of an ordinance to renew an agricultural district near County Road P.

Passed, under suspension of rules, a resolution to apply for a Safe Routes to School grant.

Approved second reading of an ordinance to annex three acres of land.

Passed, on final reading, an ordinance to change the pay range for the Napoleon Municipal Court bailiff.

Approved spending $35,000 for an electric cost of service study to be conducted.

Requested legislation be brought for a contract between the city and other entities for fire and emergency medical services.

Accepted various donations for the future pool site and approved allowing the police department to apply for various grants.