Could Myrtle Beach see barricades this season?

The Sun News file photo
The Sun News file photo jblackmon@thesunnews.com

Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock recommended putting in permanent barricades along Ocean Boulevard during Tuesday's Myrtle Beach City Council meeting.

The barricades would run from 7th Avenue North to 12th Avenue North with openings for crosswalks. During special events, such as Memorial Day weekend or the Carolina Country Music Music Festival, temporary bike barricades would be placed further along Ocean Boulevard.

Prock also suggested widening the sidewalks from 7th Avenue North to 14th Avenue North, which would cause Ocean Boulevard to drop from four lanes to three lanes in that section, in order to increase pedestrian flow.

"Increasing the walkability is what drives people into businesses, it’s not people driving by," Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune said.

On top of that, Prock suggested a pilot program that would close 12th Avenue North from Ocean Boulevard to Withers Alley to increase pedestrian flow and keep people out of the streets.

"As a community we need to increase our communications in order for our community to be successful," Prock said. "In 2017 our visitors focused on one event. The Myrtle Beach Police Department and the City of Myrtle Beach worked to address the concerns of this quickly."

The event, a shooting that was livestreamed on Facebook live, attracted millions of viewers, and caused city council to put up temporary barriers to control pedestrian movement along the boulevard.

However, many residents opposed the plan, saying the barricades stopped people from entering businesses.

John Pedersen, city manager, said Prock has met with with business owners regarding the barricades, but that public comment periods will be held during the next two council meetings.

"Obviously folks objected to the bicycle barricades," Pedersen said. "This is what we would propose in lieu of those."

The cost of the barriers and sidewalk extensions would be near $1.1 million. Pedersen said funding would come from the downtown loan pool, which needs to be repaid in three years.

"The budget proviso does allow for additional funding for infrastructure related to direct policing purposes," Pedersen said. "We feel that relates directly to the railing part. This is not to replace boots on the ground. So that's still very much a part of it."

If council moves forward with a bid and they choose to approve it, sidewalks would be completed by April 26 and the barricades would be completed by May 24, the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend.

"I do think it would be detrimental to wait another season and have our visitors see the barricades like they were last year," said Bethune. "We've had enough image issues, and to have the bike barricades up is going to add to that."