Myrtle Beach has a beautiful new boardwalk that has attracted national attention from National Geographic and our own NBC Today Show. Most downtown merchants say the boardwalk has been a wonderful addition to the area and vacationers seem to enjoy the new amenity.
However, in our special report this week, when the sun sets the environment changes and in the area around this fantastic attraction, crime is rampant - including drug deals, prostitution, robbery and the annoyance of constant pan handling.
Consider This: We've had people ask us why we want to portray the boardwalk in a negative light and the answer is because there's a problem. However, it's not the boardwalk that's negative. In fact, the boardwalk is extremely nice.
The problem is what happens only a few blocks away where tourists are walking from parking lots, hotels, shopping and restaurants. We would love to be able to report only positive stories each day, but sometimes the only way issues are addressed is when local and national media make everyone aware of those issues.
So instead of blaming the media for bringing an issue to light, why not address city leaders and ask them what they are doing to clean up the problem? In fact, most people we spoke with know there is a problem and are not surprised that this criminal activity is taking place.
If we're trying to lure millions of visitors to our area to enjoy our new amenities and we're aware of the criminal element in the area, why would we be so complacent that the activities are going on? I would think we would want to hear that there is a focused law enforcement effort to run these criminals out of town.
The leaders of Myrtle Beach need to step back and take an honest assessment of what is happening in downtown Myrtle Beach. The boardwalk is a wonderful addition for the area, but it could be even better if the criminal activity in that area was forced out.
A focused effort needs to take place to make that happen.