Over 75 locals met today to celebrate the last Saturday of free beach access parking. The event was more like a celebration than a protest. Residents asked city government to weigh the financial implications of charging 30,000 area county residents to park along the Golden Mile. These residents are among the key shoppers for Myrtle Beach merchants during the months of October through April.
What these residents brought today was a spirit of the community into a town whose leaders have become increasingly interested in commerce above community and scoring what locals call “the big redevelopment deal”.
Driving home from the event today, my wife, Marleny Hucks said, “What this town needs now are leaders, not rulers.”
As events unraveled over the past 24 hours those words could not have been more timely.
A FRIEND – A HISTORIAN – THE GOLD STANDARD
As clouds rolled in from the ocean, a heavy overcast cloud also hung among the morning attendants in regards to recent city disclosures. Almost everyone present was well acquainted with Jack Thompson. Locals agree that Jack Thompson is the gold standard regarding Myrtle Beach merchants. Jack Thompson has owned one of the most revered and most successful photography shops at 505 9th Avenue North for as long as most locals can remember. At 5 p.m. Friday, February 24th, City Manager John Pedersen, working through the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation, announced the city’s intentions to vote this coming Tuesday to take this location by eminent domain.
PARKING FEES — USED TO SHUT DOWN LOCAL MERCHANTS
It is the very parking fees paid by tourists and locals that fund the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation. The DRC has collected over $17 million to date. Those we spoke with today said they believe those funds have largely been used to drive out existing businesses, not attract new merchants.
“It’s unfair that our parking fees are used to fund the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation,” said local resident Cindy Munich.
An entire block of small business owners have recently been closed through an infrastructure initiative put in place by the DRC. Locals expect as many as 20 other small business owners in the downtown area to be driven out of business by the DRC.