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Pawleys Island council backs north end parking

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Traffic improvements on the north end of Pawleys Island could come at the expense of a dozen parking spaces, but Town Council this week ruled out a recommendation to create a pedestrian route along Atlantic Avenue.

The town Planning Commission began looking at traffic issues last year, starting with Atlantic Avenue because one commission member said vehicles parked along the roadside made the area unsafe for pedestrians.

The commission weighed the need for parking and improved safety, ruled out ideas that would have effectively eliminated any parking, and recommended council consider designating a pedestrian route in a portion of the 80-foot-wide right-of-way.

Council considered it – briefly.

“I would never vote on anything like that,” Council Member Sarah Zimmerman said.

Other members agreed.

Police Chief Guy Osborne told the council a pedestrian route would reduce safety and increase traffic.

“I would like to see more parking spaces, not less,” he said.

If the town reduces parking on Atlantic Avenue, day visitors will drive around looking for parking elsewhere on the island, where parking is already in short supply. Some will stop their vehicles in the road waiting for others to leave a parking space, he said.

“I see a lot of problems with a pathway,” Osborne told the council.

More people would cross Atlantic Avenue to get to the path, he said. State law would require pedestrians to use it, and that would be hard to enforce.

“Everybody who doesn’t use it will get a ticket,” Osborne said.

Town Council adopted the commission’s list of recommended improvements at beach accesses along the island, including marking crosswalks for pedestrians at the north end. Even though that could eliminate up to 12 parking spaces because of state-mandated setbacks, Osborne said he supported that measure.

Council Member Glennie Tarbox suggested fewer parking spaces would be lost if the crosswalks were aligned with the middle of the cross streets. Osborne said that could work, since pedestrians always have the right-of-way.

The state Department of Transportation needs to approve the markings.

Howard Ward, who chairs the Planning Commission, said foot traffic to the beach isn’t a new issue. “That’s been going on for years,” he said. “So far there haven’t been any major problems.”

Osborne said he doesn’t believe there is a safety problem on Atlantic Avenue. His concern is for Myrtle Avenue in the middle of the island, where the right-of-way is narrow and walkers and joggers must use the pavement.

“I cringe when the summer comes,” he said.

Most of the commission’s recommendations involve cutting vegetation to improve sight lines for drivers at beach accesses.

Some of that work has already been done, Mayor Bill Otis said.

“Putting new rules and regulations would be counterproductive to what Pawleys has meant to so many people over the years,” Ward said.

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