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Council chuckles at UPS golf cart delivery

Shipper sought use of city property for holiday delivery

SOLON– When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a UPS worker at the wheel of a golf cart laden with holiday packages, pulling into my driveway.
It sounded strange, but they talked about it anyway at the Wednesday, Nov. 15, Solon City Council meeting.
The sixth and final item under New Business on the agenda was discussion and possible action on a temporary storage site requested by United Parcel Service’s (UPS) Cedar Rapids office.
City Administrator Cami Rasmussen reported she was contacted by UPS representatives who asked whether the city would allow deliveries by golf cart from a rented storage facility in town.
On clear, dry pavement with a city-licensed cart and licensed driver, Rasmussen said, yes.
“That then morphed into ‘Can we put a pod at your rec. and nature center and possibly put the golf cart inside,’” she explained to council members.
Rasmussen took the matter up with Public Works Director Scott Kleppe. It was noted the Solon Recreation and Nature Area parking lot is the last to get plowed after a snowfall, which led to the consideration of the lower level lot at the library as a potential location.
Library director Kris Brown indicated it would not be an issue as long as it was off to the side and not blocking parking spaces, Rasmussen noted.
UPS responded with documents, which City Attorney Kevin Olson reviewed.
“We’re just kind of here not knowing really how council feels about the whole concept,” she said.
In response to a question from council member Steve Duncan, Rasmussen said the company was trying a similar approach in other small communities.
Mayor Steve Stange had a problem with the city helping out a “huge company.”
“It’s not a local business,” Stange said. “I just don’t think the city should be in the business of loaning out their property to a multi-billion dollar company. If they want to make an agreement with the Legion, and pay the Legion, or another business, they want to pay them the money to do it, that’s great.”
He suggested the city shouldn’t have anything to do with it.
“You all decide to do it, I think you ought to be asking a good chunk of money for it,” he said.
Council members continued the discussion.
“They’re going to use a golf cart in the middle of winter?” asked council member Shawn Mercer. “What if there’s a foot of snow?”
“Well, that was the original plan,” Rasmussen said. “But now they’re kind of leaning toward a car.”
Larger UPS trucks would make a single drop at the pod instead of individual household deliveries, she explained. A vehicle would be used to convey the parcels to their final destination, she said, and no packages would be stored overnight.
Mercer agreed there should be plenty of local businesses willing to rent a storage space.
“I don’t want to give it to them,” Duncan said.
In the initial discussions, Rasmussen said, there was no mention of compensation or a lease with the city.
“But I put them on alert that they could expect some monetary request,” she said. “And their reply was ‘how much?’”
“So the original conversation was not to lease property?” council member Lynn Morris asked.
“No,” Rasmussen said.
“Just to use it,” Duncan added.
“I’m sorry, that’s disrespectful to the town,” Morris said.
Mercer’s motion to decline the request was passed on a 5-0 vote.
Stange suggested the city provide UPS with a list of local businesses with sites that might prove suitable.
“I think it opens up a can of worms,” Mercer said. “The next day are we going to have FedEx calling? DHL? Speedy Delivery? White Glove?”