060117 Beaches: Walkways close for holiday as county extends repairs
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Broken tape flutters from a walkway that Georgetown County tried to close at North Litchfield.

Beaches: Walkways close for holiday as county extends repairs

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The traditional start of the tourism season began with little fanfare, but plenty of yellow police tape closing off walkways in North Litchfield for Memorial Day weekend.

Luther Boliek of Greenville and his family used Walkway 49 near their house at North Litchfield most of last week. “Thursday they came down and roped it off,” he said. But no work followed. “They left it wrapped up. You couldn’t get around it.”

Work to repair beach accesses damaged by Hurricane Matthew in October will continue through the end of June, said Ray Funnye, Georgetown County’s director of Public Services. The contractor hired to make repairs found more damage as crews progressed along the beach at Garden City, North Litchfield and Litchfield Beach, he said.

“We found some conditions that justified more work,” Funnye said. “We had to extend the contract.”

Last month, a Delaware woman who fell through a missing tread on Walkway 52 at North Litchfield sued the county and the Litchfield Beaches Property Owners Association for damages. She broke her wrist, her attorney said.

The extra work at the walkways was already underway when the suit was filed, Funnye said. “The lawsuit didn’t drive our decision.”

Sellers Construction of Conway got the contract for the work. The company brought in an extra crew last week and was able to open the handicapped-accessible ramp at Walkway 54 in North Litchfield for the weekend. A small tractor and piles of lumber were left on site.

This week, county maintenance crews also made temporary repairs to some walkways in order to put them back into service until final repairs can be done.

The closings caught beachgoers as well as some county officials unaware. The Litchfield Beaches POA held its annual meeting Saturday. “I’m a little surprised there are still walkways closed,” County Council Member John Thomas told the association. He lives at North Litchfield and said he has fielded many complaints.

“We understand the importance of beach access,” Funnye said. He called the holiday closings “precautionary measures.”

While the work is taking longer, he said it will be sturdier than what was lost, but Funnye added “it’s a labor-intensive project.”

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