Thursday, June 12, 2014
The Murrells Inlet 2020 Board of Directors reiterated its opposition to fireworks on the marsh, during its meeting June 4, noting it already had gone on the record in opposition to the weekly events planned to start Monday and sponsored by the Marsh Walk restaurants.
The restaurateurs announced earlier this year that they intended to resume weekly fireworks on the marsh.
Last year's fireworks, which were launched from the Marsh Walk, drew strong opposition from the MI2020 board.
This year's fireworks are to be launched from a barge in the marsh. The plans also drew concerns from two Murrells Inlet residents, who stated their opposition at the MI2020 board meeting.
Kelly Shelton, a junior at Coastal Carolina University, said she came before the board because the board is “based on the conservation of the Murrells Inlet estuary.”
She added that the “fireworks display on a regular basis were not an act of conservation.”
Shelton was joined in opposition by Gary Weinreich, who passed out photos of wires, paper and other debris collected from last year, when the fireworks were shot off from the Marsh Walk.
He also played a tape recording of the noise from last year's event, which he taped from his home about three quarters of a mile from the Marsh Walk.
“Every major company has a sustainability program,” he said, “meeting the needs of the current generation without jeopardizing the needs of future generations.”
He pointed out that with the new executive director coming on – Sue Sledz is scheduled to retire at the end of July – the board can be very strong in representing the sustainability of the inlet.
Board chairman Sean Bond pointed out that the announcement of new fireworks this year caught people by surprise. He said that the restaurants at the end of the season last year suggested that they would not bring back the fireworks this year.
Also caught by surprise was Jerry Oakley, who represents the area on the Georgetown County Council.
“I am surprised like everyone else. Last year, I was given to understand there was no plan to do weekly fireworks this year, just the three major holidays. One restaurant owner in particular told me he definitely would not support weekly fireworks again, and would vote against them. I guess they changed their mind. It is important to note the fireworks are not being launched from the Marsh Walk,” Oakley wrote in an e-mail.
Bond said that he had met with the restaurant group and that they told him there was a cleanup plan in place, but the group had little details about how the fireworks cleanup would go. This year’s fireworks will be shot from a barge. He said that the restaurant owners had told him, citing a report from Susan Libes at Coastal Carolina University, that there wasn’t enough information about the impact of fireworks on the marsh.
But Shelton, citing a study from the University of Guelph in Ontario, that the noise has an effect on nesting birds. In some instances, Shelton said, the noise has caused birds to leave the nest, and to fly far out to sea.
Stephen Williams, a board member, said “I definitely want to see the cleanup plan.”