Post Tagged with: "Myrtle Beach"

Myrtle Beach City Council Hears Frustrations and Possible Solutions to Recent Violence

June 21, 2017 8:55 AM
Myrtle Beach City Council Hears Frustrations and Possible Solutions to Recent Violence

Myrtle Beach City Council hosted a raucous special meeting Tuesday with home and business owners voicing their outrage at recent shooting incidents on Ocean Boulevard and in other parts of the city.

It was a good move by city council, allowing the meeting to act as a pressure valve relieving some of the pent up frustration felt by citizens by having it voiced directly to council and city staff in a public forum.

That frustration ran from blaming city officials for ignoring the city’s problems and threatening defeat of the four incumbent council members up for reelection in November to calling for martial law to be declared in the city.

Many of the comments were rough and pointed, one citizen even asking John Rhodes if he would immediately resign as mayor. However, council took the criticism stoically because solutions are more important at this point than verbal jousting contests.

While many of the comments fell short of suggesting solutions for the violence problems in the city, several were on point.

Several citizens suggested using money from the one cent local option ‘tourism development fee’ (ad tax) to fund more police officers.

Former Mayor Mark McBride was most forceful in this line of thinking noting that the city’s police force had not expanded since he left office at the end of 2005.

To be fair, the city has installed over 800 cameras that are constantly monitored to help with public safety response and were very helpful during this past weekend’s incidents.

McBride called for 50 percent, approximately $10 million, to be redirected from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce’s out of area advertising to funding additional police officers as well as providing raises for current officers.

Read more ›

Smokescreen on Myrtle Beach Family Friendly Zone

June 16, 2017 12:23 PM
Smokescreen on Myrtle Beach Family Friendly Zone

Myrtle Beach city council and staff are apparently engaging in an elaborate smokescreen to mask the real reason behind the proposed family friendly zoning for Ocean Boulevard.

When council passed first reading of the ordinance establishing a family friendly zone on the boulevard between 16th Avenue North and 6th Avenue South the reason given was to make the boulevard safer.

It seems, according to the party line, that selling t-shirts and other novelty items with ‘suggestive’ phrases on them and the sale of hookahs and knives caused the spate of shootings which have become all too common on Ocean Boulevard.

It doesn’t seem to make any difference that all these items are sold legally and, in fact, have been sold for many years in many other areas of Myrtle Beach including other sections of the boulevard and in Coastal Grand Mall. For some reason, they only have this strange effect between 16th Avenue North and 6th Avenue South.

If you believe that one, I know of a bridge in Brooklyn for sale.

This action appears to fit into a bigger plan that has been talked about for decades. I submit this is the second step in a larger plan that began when the city used a ‘secret agent’ to buy up land in the superblock and now plans to use eminent domain to obtain the last several parcels that it couldn’t get secretly.

It is interesting to note that despite much talk about a new location for the Children’s Museum and Chapin Memorial Library, no money exists in the city budget to build such a structure.

It appears that this attempt to harass business owners in the proposed family friendly zone may well be nothing more than an attempt to create more empty buildings that can be bought, either secretly or overtly, at reduced prices by the city.

Read more ›

Lessons From Atlantic Beach Bikefest

May 26, 2017 4:38 AM
Lessons From Atlantic Beach Bikefest

Atlantic Beach Bikefest time has come again and Myrtle Beach is in its usual frenzy.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors will be on the Grand Strand this Memorial Day Weekend to attend the Bikefest and related activities.

However, rather than appreciating the tourists that come to spend their hard earned dollars, the city treats this weekend like an invasion by ISIS.

Downtown Myrtle Beach looks like a third world Banana Republic for most of Memorial Day weekend with police, many in commando style gear, on every corner.

But, most of the people in town for the weekend are tourists who come to have a good time.

That’s the lesson that is escaping our supposed government leaders. The events of 2014, which gained national headlines for Myrtle Beach, were caused by a small group who weren’t here to have a good time. They were troublemakers and they caused trouble.

I saw the same thing 45 years ago when I was stationed in Scotland and used to go to soccer matches (especially ones like Rangers v. Celtic or Scotland v. England).

Many headlines the next day were about the “soccer hooligans” and the mayhem they caused. But, the overwhelming percentage of the crowd was there to support the respective teams.

And they were surprised by the “Yank” in their midst and very friendly to him.

The real lesson from Atlantic Beach Bikefest is that most of the people who come here want to have a good time and spend money. That’s what a tourist town is all about and presumably why over $31 million taxpayer dollars are spent on the advertising campaigns of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

Read more ›

Blame Game Not Working in Myrtle Beach

May 15, 2017 5:36 AM
Blame Game Not Working in Myrtle Beach

A new approach to dealing with the increasing crime problems in Myrtle Beach must be found and it may take new leadership in the city to do it.

When there were shootings in the Booker T. Washington neighborhood, city council blamed the citizens in the neighborhood.

When there were shootings in the Superblock area of downtown, business owners were blamed and new restricted parking and times of business were instituted.

Recent shootings on Ocean Boulevard again saw business owners blamed for allowing an “environment that’s causing fights and violence in the streets.”

The attitude is ‘it is not city council’s fault or the fault of those charged with keeping the peace. Rather, it is the fault of those areas most affected by the violence.

And that attitude is exactly why the problems multiply year by year.

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, which spends tens of millions of public dollars each year advertising Myrtle Beach to tourists, worries that these incidents harm the ‘Myrtle Beach brand.’

City council, the Chamber and the small group of citizens and businesses those entities actually represent are more worried about the ‘image’ projected by Myrtle Beach than the nuts and bolts actions it will take to address the problems. (Sounds like the approach of a certain group currently occupying a historic building in Washington, D.C. right now, all image, no substance.)

The Downtown Redevelopment Corporation, an agency that has spent millions of dollars of public money while accomplishing essentially nothing over the course of many years, still must answer the question exactly what are you doing to redevelop downtown Myrtle Beach?

Read more ›

Budget Time for Local Governments

March 21, 2017 1:02 PM
Budget Time for Local Governments

This week will see several local governments, particularly Myrtle Beach and Horry County, in budget workshops as next year’s revenue and spending is considered.

If you have never seen the local budget process in action, you should consider at least watching some of the workshop meetings on local cable television or live streaming on the internet.

After all, it’s your money they are spending and services for you they are supposed to be providing.

Much of the discussion will be on the agencies’ respective general funds. Those are the funds that pay for public safety, public works, administration and so forth.

For each agency, approximately 65% of general fund expenditures are for personnel pay and benefits.

However, the respective general funds are not the only budget areas that affect local citizens.

The Horry County Solid Waste Authority, which is a component unit of Horry County Government, is asking for a $7 per ton increase on the cost of dumping municipal solid waste (household garbage) at the Highway 90 landfill.

If county council approves a rise in the SWA MSW tipping fee, every household and business in the county will be paying more for garbage disposal.

The City of Myrtle Beach parking fees, which go to the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation and are currently helping fund the taking of businesses through the use of eminent domain, are a problem for all county residents.

Read more ›

Myrtle Beach Eminent Domain Questionable – Updated

February 27, 2017 4:48 AM
Myrtle Beach Eminent Domain Questionable – Updated

Update – Myrtle Beach City Council voted Tuesday to go forward with eminent domain proceedings to acquire the below mentioned two properties although the entire procedure remains on questionable footing.

This appears to be another example of council ignoring longstanding citizens comments in pursuit of what remains, in our opinion, a hidden agenda.

Questions are surfacing throughout Myrtle Beach and Horry County if this is really about locating a casino in downtown Myrtle Beach as the latest attempt to revitalize the area.

A new casino bill is in play in the S.C. General Assembly with specific mention that the two casinos allowed by the bill will be located on the Grand Strand. The latest justification for allowing casinos in South Carolina is to raise a continuing funding source for roads and schools.

One only has to look at the history of Atlantic City, N.J. to understand that such promises are often hollow.

We can only wait and watch developments in the superblock and surrounding areas while city elections draw ever closer.

_________________________________________________________

Questionable use of the power of eminent domains appears to be the next move as Myrtle Beach City Council looks to advance its superblock agenda.

Council is scheduled to vote on a motion to apply eminent domain to two properties in the superblock at its regular meeting Tuesday.

The following is an extract of the council agenda:

“Motion M2017-33 to authorize the City Manager and City Attorney to take the necessary legal actions to acquire properties located at 505 9th Avenue North (Tax Map #1810707016) and 801 North Kings Highway (Tax Map #1810707020), by the use of eminent domain. Such properties are to be used for public purposes, including but not limited to parks, plazas, museums and libraries.”

Read more ›

Road Maintenance Debate Could Affect Coast

February 7, 2017 5:36 AM
Travis Bell Photographers

An interesting debate on road maintenance funding appears to be forming in the SC General Assembly that could have ramifications for coastal Horry County.

Estimates in Columbia project the state needs over $1 billion annually of new revenue to fix and maintain the state’s crumbling road system.

A bill has been introduced to raise the gas tax by 10 cents over a period of five years, along with other fee increases on things like automobile registrations, automobile purchases and the like. That bill, if passed, is estimated to contribute approximately $600 million per year when fully implemented.

An increase in the gas tax gets the state about 50% toward its goal. How to get the rest of the way? Casino gambling at the coast with the tax and fee revenue generated going back to Columbia to fund road maintenance.

The desire for casino gambling has never left the minds of certain players along the Grand Strand.

In 2009, this group put its initial support behind Gresham Barrett in the governor’s race. Remember the $85,000 funneled to Barrett that was part of Coastal Kickback?

But Barrett lost to Nikki Haley and talk of casino gambling faded into the background. Now Haley is gone and new Gov. Henry McMaster is, reportedly, at least willing to listen to the arguments for signing a casino gambling bill if it passed by the General Assembly.

According to our sources, at five different local sites are being discussed for possible casinos: the old Myrtle Square Mall site, what is called the South Mixed Use District (part of the Municipal Improvement District being planned in Myrtle Beach), a site near the intersection of S.C. 22 and S.C. 31, a site on S.C. 9 and the former Hard Rock Park site.

Read more ›

Myrtle Beach Superblock Plans Raise Questions

January 28, 2017 5:56 AM
Myrtle Beach Superblock Plans Raise Questions

Tuesday’s announcement by city officials that a library and children’s museum is being planned for the Superblock in downtown Myrtle Beach does not come without raising questions.

Over the past several months, mystery has surrounded contacts to property owners in the Superblock area from Metro Properties representing an “undisclosed buyer.”

Ostensibly the city attempted to maintain secrecy in order to keep property values from escalating, according to statements by several city officials.

Maybe, but this sounds like we haven’t heard the entire story so far. According to media reports, Mayor John Rhodes went out of his way to assure everyone that ‘sales have been made between willing buyers and willing sellers’ and ‘fair market prices have been accepted with willing buyers.’

Why the need to sound like ‘he doth protest too much?’

Another question – why is Chapin Library part of this grand city plan?

When the South Carolina General Assembly passed Home Rule legislation in 1975, it specifically made libraries a responsibility and function of county government. Chapin Library is a city owned library that pre-dates home rule, but has been the subject of discussions between city council and county council over the last decade, with the city looking to get out of the library business or, at least, have the county pick up the costs of running the library.

Now, in an apparent reversal, the city plans to build a new library with a line of credit backed by taxpayer dollars.

No one argues the Superblock is not a blighted area that needs redevelopment. One could argue things in that area haven’t changed much since the early 1990’s when then city council members allowed Burroughs and Chapin to hijack money targeted for downtown redevelopment and use it instead to build Broadway at the Beach.

Read more ›

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., WEEKEND

January 11, 2017 5:10 AM
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., WEEKEND

Important Dates for the annual Myrtle Beach Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend of celebrations

January 12-16, 2017

A celebration in honor of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Leader, Pastor, Teacher, and Citizen

Thursday, Jan. 12:

Welcome Mixer and Reception

At Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, by Invitation Only, 5 – 7 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 13:

Welcome Continental Breakfast/Keynote Address

Myrtle Beach Convention Center, Ballrooms A & B, 8 – 9:30 a.m.

Guest speaker State Rep. Mia McCloud (79th District, Columbia)

Translating Diversity: A Workshop

Myrtle Beach Convention Center, Ballrooms A & B

Opening: 9:30 -10 a.m., Morning Workshop 10 – Noon, Afternoon Workshop 1:30 – 3:30 p. m.

Presented by Dr. Graeme Coetzer, Director of the Institute of Community Development, College of Charleston

Employability Workshop and Jobs Fair

Myrtle Beach Convention Center, Ballroom D, 9 a.m. – noon

Read more ›

Local Reflections on 2016

December 22, 2016 5:14 AM
Local Reflections on 2016

Reflecting back on the year’s events in these last days of 2016, several local issues stand out that will carry over unresolved into the New Year.

The International Drive project is a perfect example of what many citizens find wrong in the country today. The project is highly popular with a vast majority of citizens because of the ‘back door’ ingress and egress it will give to Carolina Forest neighborhoods.

Horry County spent the year winning one court hearing after another over environmental groups trying to block the project. Some construction work was done in the fall after permits were issued by SCDHEC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

However, a temporary stay issued by a federal court, since removed, and now a stay against the permits issued by the state court of appeals leaves the project once again stalled awaiting further court dates.

I first rode with General Vaught in his four wheel truck on what is now called International Drive when it was nothing more than a dirt track through the woods. There is no vast environmental disaster waiting to happen if construction of International Drive is completed.

Nevertheless, a small group of environmentalists continues to thwart the wishes of a vast majority of the citizens while completion of a much needed road continues to be delayed.

Staying with the county, much needed changes in the Horry County Police Department have begun with the hiring of a new chief in the fall.

After a year in which the county and its police department was hit with a series of lawsuits over the conduct of officers, notably those in the detective division, over a series of years, hopefully those transgressions will be ending.

Read more ›