Renovations scheduled for 2 state parks

Renovations scheduled for 2 state parks

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Renovations are scheduled in 2015 for two coastal state parks: Myrtle Beach State Park and Huntington State Park.

Both parks see millions of visitors every year. Myrtle Beach State Park was named the busiest state park in all of South Carolina. It is also in desperate need of some renovations.

According to Marion Edmonds with the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, the biggest project there will be upgrading the sewer system. Doing so will cost about $1 million. The other big maintenance project will be repairing and repaving the roads - to the tune of another $1 million. There are also plans to renovate a bathroom in the campground to make it more accessible for families with special needs. These bathrooms haven't been updated in about 40 years. So not only will everything look nicer, the changes will also make campers more comfortable. And finally, the park manager says more campsites will be upgraded to full-service sites to accommodate sewer lines. These renovations should get underway sometime this year.

Plans are in the works to make more space for more campers at Huntington Beach State Park as well. Ten years ago, Huntington Beach used to have maybe 50,000 visitors a year. Now, the park is topping a million a year. Despite that, Huntington Beach actually has one of the smallest campgrounds of all the beach state parks.

To help with this growing demand, the park is planning to add about 50 campsites. Each will have A 50-amp circuit to handle the power for today's bigger and better RVs. The older campsites only handle 30 amps. This is the park's biggest project. Those new sites will be built on top of where an old campsite used to be, before it was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo. So the construction won't destroy any forest or animal habitats.

"It'll actually be a little more environmentally sensitive," says Mike Walker, Huntington Beach State Park Interpreter. "One of the issues with the old campground that was there previously is that each campsite kind of had cut its own pathway to the beach, which kind of wreaked havoc on the sand dune ecosystem. At the new campground, there'll be one centralized beach access point to limit access so it doesn't damage the environment."

The campsite expansion should get started sometime this year. The total cost for all of these renovations will be about $1 million.

Huntington Beach is also renovating the current campsite bathroom to make it more accessible to anyone with disabilities. Extra sidewalks have already been added. A new family restroom with a bigger shower and more space will also be built. The bathroom renovations should be done before the busy summer season starts. The Friends of Huntington Beach support group raised the funds to build this ADA approved restroom.

Both parks are parts of the State Park Service, a major component of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. Therefore, the funding for the projects is a part of the overall agency budget.

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