Myrtle Beach Community Appearance Board Chairman Larry Bragg took no prisoners at a Thursday meeting, leveling criticism both at the design for an arcade building at an amusement park proposed for North Kings Highway and at residents who worried about the noise and light from it.
“I don’t mind whimsy,” Bragg told Tom Miller of Miller Design Services. “But I don’t like your (design) at all on the arcade. It’s beyond tacky.”
As for residents of Grande Dunes and Dunes Cove who said they were worried about the noise and light from the park disturbing their way of life, Bragg suggested that the noise from the six lanes of traffic where the park will be located on the Shrine Club site will be worse than that from four go-kart tracks that are proposed for the park.
As for light worries, Bragg told a Grande Dunes resident, “The fact that you have 500 (feet) or 600 feet is a beautiful blessing as far as a buffer.”
The CAB did not vote on the proposal from The Track of Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Rather, members suggested a lengthy process during which they would want to know and see the details the company plans to take to address noise and light concerns.
“I know it can be done very very well,” CAB member Jim Hubbard said of the development. “But it’s going to take some time and attention so that the community can see it.”
The proposal has four electric go-kart tracks -- two 31-foot high tracks, a beginner’s track and a kiddie track -- on the six-acre site where the Shrine Club now sits. The site also will house a two-story, 15,000-square-foot arcade, the ground floor of which would be the games with offices and Shriner meeting rooms on the second floor.
A plan for the park submitted earlier this year included a Ferris wheel and kiddie boats, but that plan was withdrawn because of neighbors’ concerns, and the additional rides are not included in the new plan.
Miller said this is the first of a number of The Track parks in the Southeast to have electric go-karts. While there will be some sound associated with them, he said the noise they generate will be well below the city’s allowable decibel level.
A drive along the property’s south side will lead to a parking area for 250 vehicles on the rear of the property that borders the Intracoastal Waterway.
The initial site plan calls for a five-foot vegetated buffer between the parking lot and the 50 feet to 60 feet of land to the waterway, and CAB members suggested that it could be wider. They also said they wanted to see the details for greenery that’s planned among the go-kart tracks and arcade.
Bragg honed his criticism of the arcade to the arched sign that would be on the street side of the building. Each letter would be in a different color block and topped with a spire making it look somewhat like a crown.
“If I wanted to catch the eye, it does it,” Bragg said. “But I don’t think it does it in a good way.”
On the other hand, Bragg and other CAB members praised the site plan for being a welcome break from the acres of parking that front the eateries along Restaurant Row. And they liked that Miller seemed to be trying to evoke Myrtle Beach of yesteryear in the design.
Bragg singled out the goose-neck lighting on the building’s exterior for praise.
“Each subsequent presentation you make to the board,” Hubbard said, “I would like to see more and more how you relate the design to the site.”
Grande Dunes resident Jim Armitage said after he made his presentation to the board that he was worried that decisions made on light and noise details could be eroded during the development.
“We’ve been very concerned about this development,” Armitage said as he opened his brief presentation to the board.
While light and noise pollution are concerns, he said he likes the setbacks detailed for the parking lot, but worried that lights from vehicles going to the rear lot at night would flash across the Waterway to his and other homes in Grande Dunes.
“I was very pleased to hear the real concerns of the board,” he said.
Steve Wright, a Dunes Cove resident, said he hoped designers would take steps to lessen potential noise from the metal-on-metal screeching that the go-karts might make if they ran against the side rails of the tracks.
He suggested that using wood and rubber bumpers in the design would cut down the potential for loud noise.
Shriner Don Meyers said that the revenue the organization will get from The Park will allow the club “to contribute a sizeable amount of money to crippled children.”
He said he remembered the angst over other Grand Strand developments and how they proved to be much greater than any disturbances that resulted.
Bragg recalled worries over residents of some of the same neighborhoods when Dollywood planned its Grand Strand theater for the same area, at the triangle where Kings Highway and U.S. 17 Bypass converge.
He said that they worried that the smell made by animals standing in paddocks outside the theater would lower their property values.
Similar worries over quality of life and property value erosions were made when the Carolina Opry moved into the same area.
He reminded those at the meeting that Ticketreturn.com at Pelicans Ballpark was first proposed with a tiki-looking thatched roof.
Miller said he was looking forward to the process of refining the plan.
“Half of our fun is solving problems in a way that works,” he said. “I accept the challenge.”