By Paul Gable
A new approach to dealing with the increasing crime problems in Myrtle Beach must be found and it may take new leadership in the city to do it.
When there were shootings in the Booker T. Washington neighborhood, city council blamed the citizens in the neighborhood.
When there were shootings in the Superblock area of downtown, business owners were blamed and new restricted parking and times of business were instituted.
Recent shootings on Ocean Boulevard again saw business owners blamed for allowing an “environment that’s causing fights and violence in the streets.”
The attitude is ‘it is not city council’s fault or the fault of those charged with keeping the peace. Rather, it is the fault of those areas most affected by the violence.
And that attitude is exactly why the problems multiply year by year.
The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, which spends tens of millions of public dollars each year advertising Myrtle Beach to tourists, worries that these incidents harm the ‘Myrtle Beach brand.’
City council, the Chamber and the small group of citizens and businesses those entities actually represent are more worried about the ‘image’ projected by Myrtle Beach than the nuts and bolts actions it will take to address the problems. (Sounds like the approach of a certain group currently occupying a historic building in Washington, D.C. right now, all image, no substance.)
The Downtown Redevelopment Corporation, an agency that has spent millions of dollars of public money while accomplishing essentially nothing over the course of many years, still must answer the question exactly what are you doing to redevelop downtown Myrtle Beach?
David Sebok, Executive Director of the DRC, has lamented in local news “if the DRC or the city had the wherewithal to buy that property and clear it out and offer it to a redeveloper we would do that.”
Eighteen months ago we heard Chinese money was being courted to come in to build major new attractions in Myrtle Beach. Then, we discovered this money didn’t really exist.
Over four decades ago, the town of Atlantic City, N.J. and the state government of New Jersey came up with big plans to revitalize Atlantic City through the development of gaming casinos. Forty years and many failures later, Atlantic City is no better off than it was in the mid-1970’s.
We don’t want this to happen to Myrtle Beach. The best idea is to forget the grandiose dreams, and maybe the grandiose dreamers, currently popular in the city government and get down to real planning with the business owners and citizens who want to move forward with improving the state of the city.