Town council gives Longwood a golf cart exemption

Published 3:54 am Friday, May 17, 2024

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Longwood University’s new facilities building is almost done. And as a result, you may soon see some golf carts crossing parts of North Main Street, as the Farmville council made an exemption to the town’s rules. 

As it stands, there’s no way to put Longwood’s facilities operation, along with housekeeping, campus planning and construction in the same building on campus. They just don’t have the space. So when a spot became available on Fourth Street, university staff took advantage, purchasing the lot where the old lumber yard was near downtown. 

“Right now, a lot of those departments are spread out on campus throughout academic buildings, so this new building is going to bring a lot of those departments together under one roof and also free up more academic space,” said Lori Blackwood. She works with the Longwood Real Estate Foundation and came before the town council during their Wednesday, May 8 meeting. 

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“One of the things we had requested is for our staff, with a very specific route, to be able to cross Main Street at the McDonalds back and forth,” Blackwood said. “So they can carry their equipment and handle work orders.”
Basically, they want an exemption, to allow Longwood staff to be able to drive golf carts in certain parts of town and then across the street at that one location she mentioned above, the Main Street crossing. Under the plan, Longwood employees would be able to drive golf carts on the portion of Putney Street west of and beginning at the entrance of Mid-Town Square to the intersection of Putney Street and North Main Street. Then the golf carts and other utility vehicles could cross North Main at that controlled intersection at McDonalds. 

A couple notes on Longwood rule 

There are a couple things to make clear here. First, golf carts are only allowed in the space mentioned above. Other than that, the new ordinance states “any operation of golf carts and utility vehicles outside of the highways designated herein shall be unlawful.” Second, only designees of Longwood University would be allowed to drive the vehicles, while acting “in the course of their assigned duties.” 

The vehicles will also only be allowed to operate between sunrise and sunset, unless they have the correct lights in place. They’ll also always have Longwood University markings, with a blinking strobe light on top of the vehicle. 

The ordinance had been discussed previously, both by council and the planning commission, with no issues raised. 

Council members said they saw no problem with the request, as there would only be one crossing in a well-lit area. 

“I think this is an exception that I believe we need to make in this case,” said council member Daniel Dwyer. “It’s going to be a short crossing in a golf cart that’s going to be well lit, with flashing lights crossing in the 25 mph zone.” 

The ordinance passed with a unanimous vote. As for the building that currently houses facilities and maintenance? It’s going to be demolished, Blackwood said, and eventually turned into a performing arts center on Longwood’s campus over the next several years.