By Paul Gable
A meeting of a Myrtle Beach south end citizen’s association last night discussed planning for the upcoming 2015 Atlantic Beach Bikefest.
Attended by Myrtle Beach police chief Warren Gall and several additional officers involved in planning for the event, the discussion was somewhat heartening for south end residents.
Gall discussed the goals and specific of the planned traffic loop and other areas that it is hoped will allow for less interference with south end neighborhoods and greater crowd control over Bikefest attendees during the 2015 event.
Using 29th Avenue North as the line of demarcation between the north end of Myrtle Beach and the south end of Myrtle Beach, for Bikefest planning purposes, Gall said the majority of officers available on a shift would be deployed south of that line.
Gall said he has asked for an additional 400 out of area police officers to be deployed within Myrtle Beach city limits to enhance the approximately 200 Myrtle Beach police officers who will be on duty at any one time during Memorial Day weekend.
Even with these plans, residents in south end neighborhoods, especially those in close proximity to Yaupon Drive, expressed concerns about control of vehicle traffic and parking as well as transient foot traffic that affected their neighborhoods last year.
Myrtle Beach mayor John Rhodes and three city councilmen, Randal Wallace, Mike Lowder and Phil Render, were in attendance at the meeting as observers.
Horry County council member Marion Foxworth, whose District 3 includes the south end of Myrtle Beach, was also in attendance.
In a short address to the group at the end of the meeting, Rhodes said the Atlantic Beach Bikefest is an event that is not going away and had to be planned for. Rhodes said he wanted to keep the politicians out of the planning process and leave it to the professionals.
Rhodes’ statement is a bit disingenuous. The politicians don’t want into the process. They want to keep as many buffers between themselves and the planning process as possible in case everything goes awry.
But, the politicians are the group answerable to the people, for any initiative, as Myrtle Beach city council found out when last year’s Bikefest got out of control.
Nevertheless, Rhodes’ sentiments are justifiable as long as he understands ultimately it’s the politicians who will either receive plaudits if things go well or criticism if they don’t.
Conclusions from the meeting are that planning for crowd control during Atlantic Beach Bikefest is at least much more detailed than in recent years. Solutions for problems experienced in the south end of Myrtle Beach during last year’s Bikefest are at least being considered.
But, at Gall told the crowd, nobody knows what is really going to happen.
The additional planning will, hopefully, avert some potential incidents and address others as they arise.