By Paul Gable
(Ed. Note – Filing for municipal elections opens next week. Grand Strand Daily is going to pay special attention to those in Atlantic Beach and Conway, two communities that are missing opportunities but, ripe for change.)
Driving through the streets of Atlantic Beach yesterday, I was shocked by the dearth of people and cars.
Atlantic Beach is probably the only oceanfront community on the Atlantic coast in mid-August with almost empty streets and a nearly empty beach.
The only cars in sight were those parked on the empty oceanfront lots by people either patronizing the local parasail business or enjoying the quiet beach.
The approximately four block oceanfront has only a couple of small buildings breaking up otherwise empty land on what would be the first and second rows of commercial establishments in other beach communities.
The avenues running from Kings Highway to the oceanfront and the cross streets connecting them have a number of empty lots. Empty, often overgrown lots only minutes from the beach!
Atlantic Beach could be a modern case study on missed opportunities.
The only times we hear about Atlantic Beach are when troubles maybe mistakenly associated with the annual Atlantic Beach Bikefest erupt in other areas of the Grand Strand or when town elections end up in court.
Managed properly, the Atlantic Beach Bikefest could be the summer kickoff event to begin a strong summer season, much like the Sun Fun Festival used to be for Myrtle Beach. Instead, it is the one commercial event that the few businesses in town not on Kings Highway rely on for most of their yearly income.
It doesn’t have to be this way. A town council with some foresight working with the permanent residents and the absentee landowners of the community could advance the prospects and future of Atlantic Beach.
But, Atlantic Beach needs the right people on council and that hasn’t been the case over the last couple of decades.
Governor Nikki Haley visited the town after the problems over the 2014 Memorial Day weekend. Haley was calling for the end of Bikefest, but offered to work with town officials on creating other opportunities.
A special town council meeting was called for Haley’s visit. It lasted all of 15 minutes, enough time for Haley to speak and the council to, basically, dismiss her.
That is not leadership on the part of the town council. It is not looking out for the best interests of the citizens of Atlantic Beach. It is nothing other than selfish and stupid!