OLDSMAR — He has his golf cart outfitted with all the bells and whistles — lights, an $800 battery and even indoor-outdoor carpeting. If everything goes according to plan, by the end of February, Tom Price will be driving his beloved golf cart along streets in his Oldsmar neighborhood.
"I plan on using it nonstop,'' said Price, 49, who has lived in Oldsmar for five years.
The City Council has authorized the city attorney to prepare an ordinance allowing golf carts on the interior streets south of State Road 580 and east of Forest Lakes Boulevard. Once the ordinance is written, the council will discuss approving it, most likely at a meeting in February.
The move to create an ordinance came about because Price asked for it. In November, he was pulled over for illegally driving his golf cart near Veterans Memorial Park. He quickly researched the way other cities policed golf cart use. He decided that making the area of Oldsmar between downtown and the waterfront "golf cart friendly" would be his personal mission.
If approved, this would be the second area of Oldsmar to permit golf carts on the streets. In 2011, the council gave permission for residents of the Gull Aire mobile home community to drive them.
With direction from the council, the technical review committee for Oldsmar discussed Price's request before the holidays. And on Jan. 7 at a City Council meeting, Marie Dauphinais, the city's planning and redevelopment director, presented the committee's findings.
With regulations, the committee did not have objections to golf cart use. "It's basically what we did with Gull Aire,'' Dauphinais said.
Regulations include registering the golf cart through the city of Oldsmar, keeping the speed limit to 20 miles per hour, requiring that the drivers be at least 16 with a valid driver's license, and keeping carts off sidewalks, trails and out of parks.
According to Cristen Rensel, a spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, there are about six other municipalities in Pinellas County that now allow golf cart use.
"We won't officially address it until the ordinance is out in Oldsmar, but what we've seen in other areas is that we handle the calls on a case-by-case basis. There are different types of golf carts out there, and what one person is driving depends on what laws they should follow,'' she said. "Of course it is important that (drivers) always use safety precautions just like with any vehicle.''
Since Price's confrontation with the deputy in the fall, he has been spending weekends in Dunedin, driving his golf cart between that city's stores and restaurants.
"I don't think the city of Oldsmar has realized yet the positive financial impact allowing golf carts will have,'' he said. "I'll be keeping my money here in town instead of going to other cities. I think City Fish will be the first restaurant my wife and I will drive our golf cart to once this goes through.''
Piper Castillo can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163.