MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – After a year of tension between the city of Myrtle Beach and the Oceanfront Merchants Association, both sides sat down Friday to reconcile their differences and discuss the future.
Everyone agreed they needed to work together to protect the vitality and success of downtown Myrtle Beach. City officials even proposed taking a more involved role in OMA events.
The tension between both sides escalated in February when OMA canceled the annual St. Patrick's Day Festival. The reason given was that the city did not provide $2,800 for in-kind services.
City leaders said there was more that went into the decision.
Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes said it was the "biggest smack in the face" to city council when OMA canceled the St. Patrick's Day event.
After discussing the matter on Friday, the meeting shifted to moving forward and leaving drama in the past.
Rhodes said the city wants to be more involved with OMA events so that officials know money given to the organization is being spent properly. Funds are being reallocated so that more is coming from the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation and less from the accommodations tax.
"OMA is going to be challenged to raise sponsorship dollars to advertise and promote the area," Rhodes said. "And then the city, with ATAX, DRC and their funds, we will look at doing all the entertainment events that go on to try to make sure that we've got some great events going on downtown to draw people there."
Next fiscal year, OMA will get $200,000 from the DRC and $75,000 from ATAX, officials said at Friday's meeting.
As the responsibility shifts, both sides are hopeful that a clear line of communication makes for a better partnership.
Those who attended Friday's meeting will continue to meet once a month. As the peak tourism season begins, the focus is how to make this summer successful.
After the season winds down, the group will look at long-term goals and changes.