NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Long-time North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley is speaking about her resolutions for 2018.
Hatley said over the course of 20 years, she has noticed a lot of change in North Myrtle Beach, including growth in tourism numbers.
"There's a lot of things going on in the city of North Myrtle Beach this coming year," Hatley said.
North Myrtle Beach is a beach destination and Hatley said maintaining the beach continues to stay on top of the list.
"We are due to do a complete renourishment project, so we are working very hard with Corps engineers to secure a permit and sand to complete the 2018 beach renourishment project," Hatley said.
The $1.8 million project is set to be completed by the end of 2018, although that's far from all.
"We just finished the dredging of the channels, but the project is not finished. This year we will be creating wetlands and we will do our oyster mitigation, which is part of the federal permitting," Hatley said. "Also the basin where we stored the materials that came out of the channels, those basins will have to be cleaned."
There is road work in the plans too. The underground utility work in Crescent Beach is expected to be complete in 2018, along with paving Ocean Drive through Cherry Grove.
"We are working very hard widening 11th Avenue and will complete that project and we will build a sound barrier wall for the people who live in the Tilghman Forest area. When we finish, it will be an absolutely beautiful highway for our tourists and residents," Hatley said.
Tourists are a key draw for Hatley. She said the city will continue to focus on growing its sports tourism and is banking on the industry bringing in more dollars to North Myrtle Beach.
Hatley said the 162-acre North Myrtle Beach Sports Complex, which is a venue for multiple year-round events, plays a huge role.
"We keep working with developers and we have a lot of interest in growing our sports tourism from the outside, possibly a public-private project," she said.
The North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex was built three years ago and is considered one of the city's best additions.
"An expensive addition, but the nice thing about that is that tax paying for the sports tourism will be completed in 2019 and that comes off the citizens' tax bill," Hatley said.
She added that the city's aquatic fitness center is full of snowbirds during the winter and sees an average of 5,000 people per month, along with the recently built wake and aqua parks.
Hatley said people can expect to see a brand new event in the spring - the Third Annual Saltwater Highland Games and Heritage Festival.
Organizers approached city officials because the event outgrew its previous location.
"The Highland Games, yes it's the first time they've been here," Hatley said. "They have been holding it at Market Commons, but they have moved to North Myrtle Beach and we welcome them and (are) happy to have them. The sports complex has been a wonderful addition. It stays full of sports activities all the time."
The possibility of the new tourism development fee, or TDF, could play a role in more growth. The city of North Myrtle Beach is giving its voters the chance to decide if they want to see a one percent sales tax increase implemented.
Hatley said North Myrtle Beach could see as much as $8.5 million generated in the city if citizens vote to pass the TDF. The public referendum is set for March 6.
The mayor believes the people of North Myrtle Beach understand what the new tax could mean for them.
"We will be working to educate the people about the TDF. We have a lot of our businesses who really want the TDF for the chamber of commerce, but we also need our citizens to be educated about it. So that's what we will be doing in the next couple months, to talk about the benefits and also about the cons of the TDF," Hatley said.
With more growth means one small need too.
"Land is very, very expensive and it's very hard to find enough parking to accumulate together for parking spaces, so I do think that is going to be one of the challenges we have," Hatley said.
Hatley credits part of the overall success in the city to her public safety officials who continue to work hard every day to keep the crime rate low in North Myrtle Beach.
"We have been successful in so many ways over the past years and that's what we will continue to try to accomplish," she said.