Put your money in the bucket. See a highway problem? Put a sticker at the spot. Where along the Waccamaw Neck do you like to go? Put a blue dot there.
These were a few of the innovative ways that planners and consultants gathered information from about 115 people who came out to a public workshop at the Murrells Inlet Community Center Tuesday night.
Georgetown County and the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments (WRCOG) are working on updates for the county’s overall Land Use Plan. Transportation is one of the key elements in how people use the land. The focus of the drop-in style workshop was on where people live, work and play and how they get there.
Among the most sobering of the nine “stations” at the community center was one showing where and how many crashes there have been in the last three years, 2016 through 2018.
From near the Horry County line south to about where the entrance to DeBordieu Colony is located on U.S. Highway 17, there were 713 crashes in those three years. Of those, four resulted in deaths.
A “Crash Summary” notes that 513 of the crashes – 72 percent – were without injury or without data on injuries.
The single worst spot was Burgess Road (SC 707) with 115 crashes. Waverly Road had 65 crashes and Wachesaw Road had 64. Close behind in numbers was Riverwood Drive with 58 and Boyle Drive with 46.
Average daily traffic counts in the study area range from 30,500 near DeBordieu to 47,400 near the county line.
As for putting money in the buckets, the dots and stars and stickers and other items, Dylan McKnight with Stantec said, “We came up with these ideas to engage the public. It helps people think about what it takes to get things done.”
In order to compile the “bucket list” of items, small buckets with labels were placed on a table. Each participant was given $5 in play money and could put those dollars in one of ten buckets.
Ben Strickland, who worked at Capt. Dick’s Marina and its successors for many years, put some of his money in a “Conservation” bucket. “I go back to Sister Peterkin and those days,” he said.
By giving each person $5 to use, McKnight said, “It forces you to make decisions on what’s important to you and what you think is important to the community. But, it all goes back to participation.”
In all, there were nine stations where people could see maps, photos and a lot of data. A “graffiti station” let people write on sticky notes for one of two boards. One was for what you would like to see more of, the other for “less of.” .
With other data, the sticky note ideas will be compiled into data to be shared at future meetings.
“The purpose of this corridor study is to update a 2003 study and see what recommendations still need to be implemented along the US 17 Corridor. This area has experienced tremendous growth and this study seeks to take a fresh look at improving safety and congestion for both motorists and pedestrians.” That’s from a fact sheet people could pick up at the workshop.
County staff, consultants for the county and the WRCOG will take data from the workshop and draft recommendations. There will be a four-day US 17 Corridor Study Design Charette Oct. 21-24 at the Waccamaw Neck Library.
From a card at the workshop: “What is a charrette?”
“A charrette is an intense multi-day design workshop. Our multidisciplinary team of planners, designers, market specialists and engineers will work together with the community to create detailed designs for various areas in and around the US 17 Corridor. The charette will yield specific action items and recommendations to improve the US 17 Corridor, which will form the basis of a new plan for the area.”
Georgetown County Planning Director Boyd Johnson said this will be the first charrette for the county. The City of Georgetown had a charrette sponsored by the Georgetown Business Association and Clemson University about 15 years ago.
Another public session will be held in January and a final report is planned in February 2020.
During the interactive workshop Tuesday, Matt Burroughs came with his 7-year-old son Bennett. His son “was born and bred in Murells Inlet and has lived here his whole life,” Matt said.
“I’m glad to see the county is reaching out, especially to Murrells Inlet. Sometimes we feel like we’re lost in the shuffle. Hopefully, Murrells Inlet can have a voice with things going on.”
Referring to children, Burroughs said “We’re doing a lot of this for them. We want the Inlet to be here for them.”