With a new mayor and two city council members, the City of Myrtle Beach is prudent to put on hold plans for a new library in the downtown Superblock, largely owned by the city.
City Manager John Pedersen and Ron Andrews, special project manager, have suspended the process for selecting an architect until the new city council is seated after the first of the year. Mayor-elect Brenda Bethune is pleased with the decision to wait, commending Pedersen and Andrews “for making that call right now. … That really should be something we’re a part of.”
In her mayoral campaign, resulting in her election over three-term Mayor John Rhodes, Bethune talked about ideas for the Superblock, including closing Main Street to motor vehicles. The area is near Nance Plaza, bounded by Main Street, Broadway and 9th Avenue North. Rhodes had proposed a new library and children’s museum in the Superblock area, although during the mayoral campaign he described placing the library there as an option.
With a new mayor and two other new council members, it’s a good idea to hold up on selecting an architect for a new library. Suspending the search for an architect will give the new council an opportunity to take a fresh look at plans for the Superblock, particularly placing the Chapin Memorial Library there. Andrews noted that the new library project can pick up again — that is, the process for selecting an architect can resume — after the new council makes a decision, regardless of the location of a new library.
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A fresh look at needs and opportunities of the Chapin Memorial Library, and whether a new library building is a good fit for the future Superblock is at the top of a “Christmas Wish List,” based on some of the ideas voiced by residents during the municipal election process.
Representation on the council is another idea the new council should seriously consider. All six members of the council, and the mayor, are elected citywide. The entire membership could reside in the same neighborhood, even the same block. Electing at least some of the members from districts, or wards, would give all areas of the city more equal representation.
The growth of The Market Common area, on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, illustrates the changing geography and demographics of the city. The city of North Myrtle Beach elects four council members from districts or wards (Cherry Grove, Crescent Beach, Ocean Drive, Windy Hill) and two at-large. All six members of the Conway City Council are elected at-large.
Evening meetings of the city council would allow more residents to attend. This probably is not a popular idea with members of the council, but citizens who work day jobs are effectively eliminated from attending meeting of the city council, and that could be fixed by scheduling regular meetings, or at least some of them, in evening hours.
Discounted beach parking for county residents could gain the city more good will than money lost from lowering parking and decal rates for non-residents. Thousands of folks consider themselves Myrtle Beach residents although they reside in unincorporated area such as Carolina Forest. The city has taken a tough stance, which could be softened.