SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - It’s a new chapter for the town of Surfside Beach, as the newly-elected town council met for the first time this year.
While it’s only been a month since the new town council members and Mayor Bob Hellyer took office, there was a lot less tension between residents and council as the meeting adjourned.
”You are a breath of fresh air, thank you,” said one Surfside Beach resident.
A residents-first mentality and transparency was the promise made by several council members, including Hellyer, during their campaigns in November.
In part of keeping their promise, council discussed the first reading of an ordinance that would give residents more time to speak during public comment before and after the meeting.
”Sometimes three minutes isn’t enough to get our point across,” said Surfside Beach resident Harry Coleman.
The proposed ordinance would allow five minutes to each speaker during public comment.
In addition, the council debated moving the start time of council meetings to 6:30 p.m. and adding a second meeting to each month.
Council voted 5 to 2 in favor of the change, but a second reading must pass before final approval.
”I think that’s the way to be fair to the residents and let them be involved if they want to be involved and have their comments,” said Hellyer.
Town council also unanimously approved two additional state accommodation tax funding requests. One was $74,000 to construct a new public restroom for 3rd Avenue North, similar to the new one built by the pier.
The pier was also a topic of discussion after the town posted new renderings of the pier on their website this week.
RELATED STORY: Surfside Beach debuts renderings of reconstructed pier
“I hope everybody gets excited,” said Surfside Beach Town Councilman Micheal Drake.
”We’re finally I think getting there,” added Surfside Beach Town Councilman Bruce Dietrich.
After nearly four years since losing the pier, the bid package to build the new one should be sent out by the end of January, giving council until the end of April to select a contractor and residents are ready.
“Just get it done, be creative, whatever you have to do, get it done because we’ve been waiting three years now going on four, it’s time to go,” said resident Bill Kinken.
Council hopes to have the old pier demolished by May and construction will take at least 18 months.