In response to increasing complaints about the use of golf carts and other "low speed" vehicles during trick-or-treating, Village officials are reminding the community about the state laws that govern the use of such vehicles on streets and roads.
According to Ottawa Hills Police Chief John Wenzlick, golf carts are not legal for on-street use within the Village. Other low-speed vehicles that have been registered with the state and have Ohio license plates may be driven on Village streets. Operators of such vehicles - which have headlights, turn signals, a horn, and other safety equipment - must have a valid state-issued operator's license and abide by all state and local traffic laws.
Following Halloween last year, the Village received a number of complaints from residents about the number of golf carts and low-speed vehicles being used to transport young trick-or-treaters. Complaints included reports of near misses with pedestrians, contributing to traffic congestion, and the reckless driving by some youthful-looking operators.
"The safety of our children is our top priority," Chief Wenzlick said. "We want everyone who enjoys trick-or-treating in Ottawa Hills to have a safe, enjoyable evening."
To ensure the safety of Plat III residents and guests on Halloween, the Village will repeat its closure of most of the streets in the neighborhood to vehicular traffic - including low-speed vehicles - while children are trick-or-treating.
Trick-or-treating will be from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 31. The street closures will start at 5:30 p.m. and end at 8 p.m. Residents and their guests should try to arrive prior to 5:30 p.m. and park in driveways while not blocking sidewalks.
Plat III is the neighborhood bounded by Secor Road to the east, Indian Road to the south, Manchester Road to the west, and the Village limits to the north. During Halloween, it is not uncommon for most Plat III residents to give out candy and other snacks to as many as 800 trick-or-treaters, often running out of supplies. In other areas of the Village, the number of trick-or-treaters ranged from just a dozen or two to about 150.
The idea for the Halloween road closures in Plat III came from the police department in 2007, strictly out of safety concerns. Village officials and residents had noticed a significant increase in pedestrian traffic over the years, with young kids running around the dark streets and dozens of cars on both sides of the streets moving around them.
This is the largest public street closure for special events in Ottawa Hills. In the past, the Village has closed one or two blocks of various streets at the request of residents to accommodate block and neighborhood parties and other community events, such as last month's Fall Festival.
Barricades with "Road Closed" signs will be placed at the end of Gallatin, Darlington, Kirkwall, Pelham, Grimsby, and Brantford roads, where the streets meet Secor Road. An additional sign directing people to park on Indian Road - where parking will be permitted on both sides - will be hung on each barricade.
Additional barricades will be placed at Orchard and Indian, Hempstead and Indian, and Darlington and Manchester roads, with these barricades staffed by volunteers who will direct motorists to park on Indian or at the elementary school or high school parking lots. Parking also will be available across from Hope Lutheran Church in the 3300 block of Indian. Residents who need to get into Plat III will still be allowed to get to their homes.