Myrtle Beach seeking public input on beach access improvements

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The weather may not have you thinking of going to the beach, but Myrtle Beach is still preparing to have beach accesses ready when the warmer weather hits.The city is hoping public input will make the area safer.

This seating area is one main focus of possible changes the city is considering. It's so close to neighboring yards, homeowners feel like they're sharing their backyards with strangers. But other people living nearby believe giving this area shade would benefit the community

"The benefit of 79th Ave. is it's the only shaded, handicapped-accessible beach access in the whole north area," said Laurel Powell, who lives near the beach access.

The accessibility for elderly and handicapped residents is one reason Powell would like to see 79th avenue north restored. A gazebo used to sit here - built in 1991 as a cooperative effort between residents in the area and the city, but the roof was torn down this spring.

"After Hugo, we rebuilt many of them, but unfortunately over time, they've deteriorated," said assistant city manager Ron Andrews.

Neighbors miss the shade it provided - because it gave elderly neighbors a chance to sit and enjoy the ocean. One example Powell gave Tuesday is a local family using it for family reunions.

"It allowed his parents to be able to sit in the gazebo, but he and his children could be on the beach, but they could all be a part of it," she said.

Other homeowners think the roof covered up crime, saying at night, a different crowd would come in, using the shelter to drink, be rowdy, and set off fireworks. The city is opening up the discussion to each side.

"We're trying to formalize that, and have developed at least three different scenarios," Andrews said.

The next discussion will most likely happen at the city council meeting on January 14th. A particular plan was not decided on tonight - but the assistant city manager is compiling every concern to make the area safer - including cracking down on the crime homeowners worry about.

Installing light poles is usually the first step the city takes to prevent crime. But it's trickier here because the light could shine in bedrooms or confuse sea turtles on the beach, so that's another issue on the list for the city to consider to make this access safer.

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