Grand Strand leaders agree to create 2 Bikefest task forces

A guest speaker addresses the Coastal Alliance.
A guest speaker addresses the Coastal Alliance.

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Grand Strand leaders met Wednesday morning at Myrtle Beach City Hall to discuss potential ways to improve Bikefest and agreed to establish two task forces.

Municipal leaders from Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, the Horry County Council, and other areas held a regular meeting of the Coastal Alliance Wednesday morning.

County Chair Mark Lazarus said that the only way to solve the problem with Bikefest is by policing. He added that even if Bikefest goes away, it could take up to three years to get Memorial Day visitors who have stopped visiting to return to the area.

"It's quite obvious we were out of control we need enough police and we have to have a plan," added Lazarus.  "It's not necessarily so many police as it is what is your plan? What's the plan how are we going to control this?"

Lazarus added the Coastal Alliance will ask the state to make a new law that will allow local jurisdictions to pull in extra officers from other agencies.

"You can have a reciprocal agreement which means for out of state if they call you you have to go too and we have limited numbers in our police force," said Lazarus.  "We're going to have to ask the state to form a new law where we can form a new law to bring more police forces in to help us."

North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach leaders said Bikefest attendees don't use parks, stay at high-end hotels, or dine at nice restaurants, meaning there are large crowds without the revenue to match.

A guest speaker spoke about how Atlanta subdued Bike Week issues in the 1990s.

North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach mayors said no matter what action is taken, it will be highly contested.

Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes said area leaders will not waste time addressing the issue.

"We're not waiting around this is not something to put off till October or November this is something that starts now," added Rhodes.

North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley called on bikers to get the word out to young crowds following Bikefest to leave. A biker activist echoed the North Myrtle Beach mayor's statement, calling on better cooperation between bikers and cities to get the young element of partiers out.

Mark Lazarus, the Horry County Council Chairman, called for two task force teams, one for public safety officers and a team of attorneys to address legalities of Bikefest changes. The Coastal Alliance is hoping for immediate progress and results from the task forces.

Atlantic Beach Mayor Jake Evans was not in attendance.

Copyright 2014 WMBF News. All rights reserved.