Businesses, tourists could see barricades on parts of Ocean Boulevard this season

Barricades could once again go up in areas along Ocean Boulevard after Myrtle Beach City Council debated the idea during the second day of their council retreat.

With the majority of council members in favor of having barricades along the road during certain times of the season, they are now working to decide where they should be placed, and when they should go up.

Last June, barricades were placed along Ocean Boulevard after six shootings occurred in three days, with one broadcast live on Facebook.

The barricades restrict movement from the sidewalks to Ocean Boulevard near Family Kingdom on Monday. Janet Blackmon Morgan jblackmon@thesunnews.com

However, council members and City Manager John Pedersen, who proposed the plan to barricade part of the central stretch of Ocean Boulevard, received push back from business who said customers had a difficult time getting into stores and hotels.

“Many businesses told me it made it so much harder for people to get to businesses, and I think we need to be mindful of not hindering people of not getting into businesses,” Mayor Brenda Bethune said.

Members discussed placing the barricades in entertainment areas of Ocean Boulevard such as near the SkyWheel, but councilors did not make a decision on the best locations at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I’m a huge supporter of the barricades for memorial weekend and events like that,” councilman Mike Lowder said during the retreat. “As far as keeping them up, I would strongly oppose that. I think the most important thing we did last summer was boots on the ground and I will stand behind that.”

Lowder argued that the the number of officers on the streets and more enforcement of city laws should happen early in the season, such as March, in order to “bring back the atmosphere to what we had on that boulevard at one time,” he said.

However, Pedersen replied, “When you start that ramping up, certainly we have large numbers of people here in March and we need to be able to deal with them. My only question is after spring break’s over, we have a few down weeks and I don’t necessarily think we need to staff at the same level.”

Now, council plans on meeting with Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock to determine policing needs along Ocean Boulevard during the season.

Another question that council members looked at was whether to put up metal barricades often used at events, or build a more permanent structure, but no decisions were made.

Megan Tomasic: 843-626-0343, @MeganTomasic