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North Myrtle Beach leaders discuss congestion at Cherry Grove boat ramps

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 9:52 PM EST
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NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Members of North Myrtle Beach City Council agree it’s time for the water traffic at the Cherry Grove boat ramps to get under control.

Leaders hosted a workshop Wednesday to brainstorm solutions to fix the problem, but some couldn’t agree on what the exact problem was.

While some agreed the congestion has gotten out of hand, others seems to think it’s the kayak businesses themselves that are causing the problems. From how they operate, group sizes, where they park - leading to the discussion of whether or not they should be allowed to use the city’s public ramp.

“A lot of perceptions that people are seeing, they make assumptions about things that just aren’t true,” said Justin Summerall, co-owner of J&L Kayaks. “We’re able to come here today and present our side of the case and let them know that we’re not doing some of the things they say we’re doing.”

Businesses like J&L Kayaks and Glass Bottom Kayak Tours say they’ve invested their own money in the upkeep of the ramp, stagger their groups out with different times and never take more than 10 people out on the water. Both said safety is their top priority.

Homeowners along the channel, however, are upset about the growing number of kayaks on the water and near their homes. They claim it keeps growing each year, affecting their boating and increasing congestion.

“It’s just all day long, every weekend, most summer days, so it’s just really sad to see and there’s also just no organization at all, the kayaks are taking up the entire boat landing,” said Laura Wood, who lives in the Cherry Grove area.

Council members came up with several potential solutions such as requiring kayak businesses to transport people by vans to the ramp location, having businesses sign a lease and even having an attendant at the ramp charging a small fee to use it.

North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley says she wants a solution by this upcoming summer and encourages kayak businesses and homeowners to reach out with solutions.

“What I’m hearing is we all don’t want to get rid of the kayaks, but we do want to get it more under control,” said Hatley.

The City Manager shared that a second ramp will be built by May of 2022 near the minor channel in Cherry Grove. Although this ramp is meant for loading and unloading, the city says they hope it can be used for kayaks and boaters as well. City Council will hold another workshop in the near feature.

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