PINELLAS PARK — Golf carts could soon become a common sight on some city streets, but the drivers will be looking for bargains, not lost balls.
The City Council is poised to give final approval to a proposal that would allow golf carts on three city streets in the eastern portion of Pinellas Park. The vote is scheduled at Thursday's council meeting.
The idea arose when some residents of Mainlands, which caters to seniors, asked two Pinellas Park council members about the possibility of being able to drive their golf carts to the nearby Wal-Mart Supercenter, 8001 U.S. 19 N.
Wal-Mart already makes accommodations for golf carts. When the store was built, it included a parking area for golf carts and bicycles, as well as a 6-foot-wide connecting sidewalk to the Golden Gate and Sunset Palms mobile home parks.
The sidewalk, made possible by the proximity of the mobile home parks to the store, means the park residents don't have to contend with cars, trucks or other large vehicles when they go to shop. The Mainlands is farther away and is connected to Wal-Mart only by U.S. 19 (which is not part of the golf cart proposal) or 40th Street N. It's illegal to drive golf carts on city streets.
Council member Jerry Mullins said he had several Mainlands residents ask if there was something the city could do to help. Mullins said that he became more aware of the possibilities "when I went over to Celebration. I noticed they had signs on the side of the road that golf carts are legal."
Mullins figured if Celebration, a planned community near Disney World, could allow golf carts on city streets, so could Pinellas Park. The advantages were clear, he said.
The golf carts use less gas, so they're less expensive to operate, and they park more easily, which helps alleviate the crowding in Wal-Mart's parking lot. And, he said, allowing golf carts on some city streets ties in with plans for the nearby Gateway Center, which will also have golf cart paths as part of a larger green initiative in Pinellas Park.
"It's all going to tie in together," Mullins said. "This is one of the very first steps."
It is unclear how far the idea could spread if others want to drive golf carts to shopping or other places in the city, such as the Shoppes at Park Place. Pinellas Park spokesman Tim Caddell said eligible streets must belong to the city. And the advantage to the three roads under consideration is that they do not have a lot of traffic anyway, so the danger of cars running over golf carts is minimized.
Anne Lindberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8450.