Vision for Myrtle Beach the hot topic for top city leaders

Vision for Myrtle Beach the hot topic for top city leaders

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - "Who should be in Myrtle Beach? Who will be in Myrtle Beach? What are those people's needs and wants?"

Those are questions top Myrtle Beach leaders and active citizens are considering while figuring out the city's future and how to make it a top player in revitalization among other cities.

Myrtle Beach mayor-elect Brenda Bethune; former, present and current city council members; city committee directors and members; Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean; city manager John Pederson; Downtown Redevelopment Corporation members; business community leaders; and active citizens were present at Wednesday's DRC meeting.

The crowd was there to hear Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock speak and to listen to new presentations about how to creatively revitalize Myrtle Beach into a thriving, refreshed beach destination.

At the top of the meeting, current DRC executive assistant Lauren Clever was nominated to replace retiring DRC executive director David Sebok. It was passed for a later vote.

Former Myrtle Beach mayoral candidate Ed Carey was there and asked the DRC chairman and members if the position had been advertised to the public first.

The first discussion was about public safety. Prock formed the afternoon's theme of vision with her 2018 plans for the department. She said addressing community needs and complaints will rollover into the next year, and it's improved since she took on the role as chief.

Prock said communication improvements will also highlight the focus of 2018. Those improvements, she added, include internal and public communication with police.

According to Prock, her team is working on how to better deploy officers to the waterfront areas and expand deployment ranges. Increasing beach and traffic patrols are also on the to-do list.

Additional highway patrol units have been a benefit to the department this year, Prock said, improving certain intersections and traffic control. She also plans to add officers to a 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift, ensuring there are officers to respond during regular shift change times.

New to 2018, the MBPD is rolling out a business watch program. It will have quarterly meetings and drive policing through business community tips.  It begins Jan. 1, and is part of the department's increased focus on community education.

Prock also touched on the department's commitment to utilizing new technology and focusing on downtown trouble spots with its narcotics unit. She said policing works best when the community and police work together for a common goal, adding she wants the community to never second-guess calling law enforcement.

After that, Pederson briefly talked about his plans to intensely enforce codes, specifically those pertaining to property maintenance. He said he plans to discuss those plans in detail at the Jan. 9 city council meeting.

Clever gave a business license data report, and Buddy Hucks did the same for property values in the district for the past and future.

Major growth is expected on both ends, but Clever ensured with the growth, the cost of business licenses will not go up.

Clever also stressed the importance of eight projects, some completed and others in the works, revitalizing parts of the city. Those projects include RipTydz and the Gateway Galleria on Ocean Boulevard.

The majority of the discussion surrounded the downtown vision of Myrtle Beach. An exercise asking those present to circle 'yes' or 'no' for each slide during a slideshow presentation was done.

Each slide consisted of pictures from various American cities of restaurant alleys, promenades, water fountains, markets, parks and riverwalks to spark new ideas for Myrtle Beach. The participants marked whether they could see that in Myrtle Beach. After that, work groups were formed and ideas shared.

During the brainstorming exercise, it was mentioned it would be best to find negative obstacles first to enhance redevelopment. Listed below are other possibilities mentioned to WMBF News by some of the attendees:

  • Concentration of people to appeal to everyone
  • Ways to keep people downtown and grow off the beach
  • Rerouting Ocean Boulevard for a block or two, adding pedestrian designs
  • Providing more walkable areas, adding bicycling options
  • Idea of adding water features near the beach, i.e. wading pool
  • Address parking issues
  • Enhance beach's second row of businesses and add boutique shops, boutique hotels and dining options
  • Create phase two of the Boardwalk
  • A music farm, similar to Charleston's
  • Upscale living and restaurants for city's Superblock
  • Add a brewery

Dean said to the group that whatever is added to the city, it needs to be "bold" and have "no mediocrity."

One obstacle addressed is bringing and keeping millennials to the Myrtle Beach area. With the eight new projects underway downtown, Clever said 830 new jobs are expected.

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