By Samantha Smith
No decision was made on amending an existing ordinance to allow golf cart use on the Garlic Creek pedestrian bridge Tuesday after the Buda City Council opted to table discussion on the item.
But Buda Mayor Todd Ruge’s motion to table came with the caveat of locating funding for the construction of an alternate golf cart path in Garlic Creek, which has a $550,000 price tag. He also added a condition where the Garlic Creek Homeowners Association (HOA) would be involved in that discussion.
Council member Angela Kennedy added an amendment to Ruge’s motion to assign Buda’s future Sustainability commission the task of finding funding for construction of a new path.
Eleven Buda residents spoke on the topic during public comment Tuesday, with ten of those comments in support of amending the current golf cart ordinance. Only one comment was in opposition to a possible change.
A majority of comments in favor of golf cart use on the pedestrian bridge centered on their use of golf carts on the bridge without incident for the last two years.
Buda Chief of Police Bo Kidd said individuals who have been knowingly in violation of the current ordinance could be held liable for the violation and subject to fines.
“We’re trying to take a different approach and use education first,” Kidd said.
A large network of Garlic Creek parents who have used golf carts said they researched options that may be feasible for Garlic Creek parents and city officials to reach a compromise.
But one caveat to amending the city’s current ordinance is the possible financial repercussions from the state. It could call for repayment of a portion of grant money used to construct the Garlic Creek pedestrian bridge, which was intended for walking and biking.
Garlic Creek resident Ashley Pendergast said TxDOT representatives have responded by offering an application Buda could use to amend its original application for state grant money to include golf cart use in the intention of the bridge.
Buda city staff was unable to determine a concrete answer from TxDOT regarding the rules governing the grant money for the bridge. Buda’s city attorney was reluctant to advise council to amend the ordinance.
Council had two options Tuesday, which were making no changes to the ordinance, or amending it to allow golf carts only on the Garlic Creek pedestrian bridge and only during school pick up and drop off times.
Council member George Haehn was not in favor of changing the current ordinance due to the possibility of having to pay the State back $734,000 of the grant money used to fund the bridge.
“I’m afraid we’re rolling the dice here,” Haehn said.
Mayor Pro Tem Wiley Hopkins supported the ordinance amendment and said it was an issue about connectivity in Buda.
“Not having school bus service is not equal or just,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins added his support of changing the current golf cart ordinance would be contingent on whether or not the city would be liable to TxDOT to repay the grant money for the bridge.
It is unknown at this time when the item will return to council for further review.