Part of town park regulations review
By Natalie Johnson
Electric bikes and scooters in town parks again dominated a discussion on a draft version of updated park regulations at the Wednesday (April 7) Winthrop Town Council meeting.
The council reviewed a draft version of the regulations based on input from the town’s Planning Commission and members of the council at its March 10 meeting.
The proposed ordinance includes restrictions on noise, alcohol, animals, gathering sizes, fires and camping and others, but the most talked-about portion at both the March 10 and April 7 meetings was whether the proposal should allow electric bicycles and scooters, and under what conditions.
The draft reviewed at the most recent meeting allows the vehicles under certain conditions. Class 1 and 2 electric bicycles with top speeds of 20 miles per hour would be allowed, while class 3 electric bikes, which have higher top speeds, would not be allowed. Electric scooters would be prohibited.
Mayor Sally Ranzau began the discussion by asking the council members what they thought.
“I don’t know how you’re going to keep people from using electric scooters without the Marshal sitting down there,” said council member Kirsten Vanderhalf.
Ranzau said it would be important to have speed limit signs for motorized bicycles, but agreed that it would be difficult to enforce any rules on the trails with the current staffing level at the town Marshal’s Office.
“I would just like to say that we’ve run across this roadblock a lot, where we want to pass what I think and what other council members think are reasonable measures, and we come across this roadblock of how are we going to enforce this,” council member William Kilby said. “I think sometimes you just have to go on record of, this is where the town stands and this is our expectation.”
The council plans to vote on the park regulations at its next meeting, on April 21.
Lodging tax request
In other actions, the council agreed to table a discussion on a $7,737.50 lodging tax grant application from Homestream Park LLC, with the Methow Conservancy acting as the fiscal agent.
Kilby noted that the town’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) unanimously recommended that the town council approve the grant request. The town council has final approval on LTAC grants.
According to the grant paperwork, the Methow Conservancy applied on behalf of Homestream Park for the grant to pay for engineering fees incurred in 2020 related to the construction of an under-bridge trail connecting the park to other trails and providing safe passage for trail users. Construction is scheduled for this spring.
Though the LTAC board voiced its support for the grant, Vanderhalf said she was concerned about the application not following the normal timeline for LTAC grants. Normally, the applications are due in mid-summer, allowing the town council to include the amounts in its annual budget.
Kilby said the town had enough extra LTAC funds to cover the grant and said organizations don’t always know when applications are due.
“We worked very hard to try and make it public that we had this new process,” he said, to allow the town to get its LTAC applications and grants approved before its budget cycle. “And it just never seems to work out that way.”
Council member Joe O’Driscoll suggested delaying a decision until the full council was in attendance. Council members Ben Nelson and Bill McAdow were absent.
The discussion was tabled until the April 21 meeting.