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GOLF-CART TUNNEL PROPOSAL MAY BE DEAD

A tunnel for golf carts under Shepard Lane to connect the two halves of Oakridge Country Club's course appears to be dead, according to two city councilmen.

Councilmen Hank Semadeni and Jim Parsell said they met with Oakridge board members to see if the private club in west Farmington would finance the tunnel's construction, estimated at $58,000.The meeting followed the council's rejection of a proposal for joint financing of the tunnel, half by the city and half by Oakridge, with the city paying the country club back over 10 years out of redevelopment tax funds.

Farmington is planning to widen and repave Shepard Lane west of U.S. 89, installing new water and storm drain lines this summer as part of its redevelopment of the area.

Traffic on the narrow, two-lane section of Shepard Lane is projected to more than double as the area develops commercially and residentially over the next decade.

Golfers playing the Oakridge course cross Shepard Lane to get to the back nine holes of the course.

While designing the new road, the council considered various ways of getting the golfers across the road safely, minimizing contact with the increasing traffic.

Stop lights, warning signs, a crosswalk and tunnel were all considered, with the tunnel tagged as the safest alternative.

But Semadeni and Parsell, along with councilman Gary Elliott, balked at the city using public funds to aid country club golfers. Although agreeing the crossing is a safety hazard, the three argued other safety hazards in the city also merit attention and the $58,000 could be better used to mitigate other hazards.

But council members Pat Achter and Greg Bell, an attorney, countered that the city knows the crossing is hazardous, has contributed to the hazard by encouraging development in the area and can expect to be sued if a cart is hit by a vehicle on the new street.

The council came close to approving the tunnel at one point, splitting 2-2 when Parsell was out of town. Mayor Robert Arbuckle, a country club member, declared a conflict of interest and wouldn't cast the deciding vote although he spoke in favor of the tunnel.

When the issue came up at the next meeting, Parsell sided with Semadeni and Elliott and voted the proposal down. But he and Semadeni agreed to ask the club's board for a new agreement, with the club paying for the tunnel's construction and the city doing the design work.

"We met with the club's board and got no response," Parsell reported Wednesday at the council meeting. "As far as I'm concerned, it's a dead issue. It went nowhere," he said.