The controversial idea of allowing golf carts on Hatcher Hill will come up tonight at the Jefferson County commissioners meeting tonight after being raised at the Madison City Council meeting Wednesday.

Andrew Forrester, the city’s community relations manager, told the City Council that “more and more people are wanting and actually using it.”

He suggested that one of the council committees consider asking the Indiana Department of Transportation to install a traffic light on U.S. 421 near the bottom of Hatcher Hill, which he said INDOT has been reluctant to consider when asked by city staff.

Mayor Damon Welch said a recommendation, if one is chosen, would not proceed without the public having an opportunity to speak.

Mayor’s aide Bob Cooke told the City Council he will be at the commissioners meeting at 5 p.m. today to talk about allowing golf carts on the trail, which opened to people and non-motorized vehicles in October 2016. Part of Hatcher Hill is in the county.

The last time the topic came up at a County Commission meeting, in 2016, about 75 people attended to ask that golf carts to be allowed on the trail, saying it would enable them to go downtown in their carts to attend festivals, go to the Farmers Market and patronize restaurants and businesses.

Hatcher Hill is three-fourths of a mile long and is steep. Forrester said part of the discussion of opening the trail to golf carts will be about installing guardrails. He said that the way that other cities handle shared uses were looked at, but “we haven’t found a community with the elevation change.”

City Council member Jan Vetrhus said the golf cart discussion needs to be broader than their use on Hatcher Hill because in a couple of years Main Street will go from state maintenance to city control.

Golf carts are prohibited on Main Street and other streets maintained by INDOT. When the change comes, the role of golf carts in the city’s people-moving plans will need to have been addressed, she has said in the past.

Hatcher Hill had been closed as a public street for more than 30 years.

It is a pedestrian and bicycle trail that is part of a larger system of non-motorized routes between the hilltop and downtown. The only parking for cars for Hatcher Hill users is at the bottom of the hill and not in the residential area at the top of the hill.

The city took on fixing up the hill as a trail as part of its application for a grant.

On another public works topic, Mike Peak of the street department spoke to the council to urge motorists to be patient while the curb near the bottom of Michigan Road hill is repaired. The hill is closed during the work, he said.

“We have to get that curb fixed,” Peak said. “If not, we lose the hill.”

Also in his report to the council, Peak asked the public to not include twigs or sticks in the curb along with leaves to be picked up.

They can mess up the leaf machine, he said.

So far, he said, 55,000 pounds of leaves have been picked up in five-and-a-half days. In a normal year, the city vacuums three-fourths of a million pounds of leaves from gutters, he said.

The leaf trucks go from east to west, then north to south on their routes.

Also at the council meeting, Vetrhus and water and sewer department director Brian Jackson had a heated exchange over a sewage lift station that is being built on Vaughn Drive.

Vetrhus said the city did not follow its own processes by not going to the Historic Board for construction in the historic district, did not issue a building permit and has no plan for lessening the visual impact of the large building on the Lanier Mansion or on Crystal Beach swimming pool, which the lift station is next to. It will replace a much smaller lift station.

Jackson said concerns should have been raised last year when the project began.

Jackson said his responsibility is to protect the environment and public health in a cost-effective way. Vetrhus said she accepts the need to have the lift station, but said its impact was never addressed.