Complaints surround amusement park proposal in Myrtle Beach

A concept image of the proposed amusement spot.
A concept image of the proposed amusement spot.

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - There soon could be big changes to Restaurant Row. The Shriners want to build an amusement center near a busy stretch of Kings Highway, it's a move not everyone is applauding.

A letter from Myrtle Beach Manor retirement home, is only one of several complaints about a proposed amusement park to take over the Shriner's space which sits right along Highway 17. While some say a busy area is a draw for an amusement park, others say it would cause quite a headache.

Myrtle Beach Manor assisted living center, is just steps away from the Shrine Club. The executive director said he doesn't want to take away the opportunity for good space to be utilized, however it will disrupt the lives of their 135 senior residents.

In the Shriners' plans, they want to have an arcade, rides, a go-kart track and a Ferris wheel. Each attraction brings up different concerns. One is that the bright, blinking lights of a Ferris wheel and attractions could disrupt dementia patients. Other issues he mentioned included traffic and noise concerns.

Since it can take 15-20 minutes to turn out of parking lots onto busy, Highway 17, a worry is an amusement park could back up traffic and could cause accidents.  Another issue, is the noise. Neighbors worry about the sounds at night.

"This is their home. If I was a homeowner, I would not want, an amusement park, that close to my home, and I'm representing those 135 residents that we have, I'm their voice," said Michael Beard, Executive Director, Myrtle Beach Manor Senior Living. "Their families have also expressed concerns, so from that standpoint I've got to oppose it, I've got to oppose it because of the noise, the traffic, the lighting."

Myrtle Beach City council was supposed to have a public hearing about this proposal, but it has been pushed back to October. WMBF news reached out to the city to find out why.

City planners said they asked the Shrine Club to come back with adjustments to their initial proposal. The Shriners have to address the issues with noise, light and traffic, three problems which are shared concerns with neighbors in the area.

The Shrine Club will be meeting, Wednesday night, to talk about these issues and how they will address them. A huge part of the conversation will be how to distribute funds, if they get the nod to build the amusement park. The Shrine Club plans to donate most of the money. The goal for the center is to bring life to the area, and raise money to give life to those in need. Rusty Watson, the treasurer of the club says they want to help local charities. He estimates about 75% of funds will go to Greenville hospital, to mainly focus on the kids in need. They only want to hold a small percentage of the money to keep the park up and running.

As of now, zoning laws allow the Shrine Club to build things like housing, restaurants, or a gym. The Shrine Club can build amusement centers - like the proposed arcade; however, certain outdoor amusements, such as the go-karts, fall outside the current zoning.

As you can see, the approval process is more than just addressing issues that would disrupt neighbors. Plus, in order to start building, this has to pass through city council. If passed, the amusement center will be built in three phases, the first, according to the proposal, may not be complete until 2016.

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