Turn swamp back to wetland to serve higher purpose
By Bubby Vereen
This is an open letter to the Mayor and City Council members of North Myrtle Beach. Please honorable Mayor and City Council members help us, the concerned citizens of North Myrtle Beach, to help stop the draining and developing of the swamp going into Cherry Grove Beach. It is the last small piece of undeveloped land we have left within the city limits and if something is not done soon it will be just another piece of concrete and steel. We already have too many vacant buildings, too many failed businesses, don’t take another piece of property that is well suited for something other than business interests. You hold the power to help turn this piece of property into a nature preserve like no other along the South Carolina coast. It can also be a beacon for all cities to achieve the fine line between business and recreational interests.
Several years, and to some of you less than a year ago, you came to us and told us you possessed the qualities of a leader and we believed you and therefore the majority of the citizens elected you to this higher office in hopes you would make North Myrtle Beach the greatest city in South Carolina by representing the interest of everyone and making the hard decisions that true leaders have to make. We elected you because we thought you held all the components of what it takes to be a leader. We believed you and we voted for you. Now we are asking you to stand up for the people who want to preserve a piece of land that in no way should be developed.
I am talking about the piece of property on both sides of Sea Mountain Highway from the water tower to the Cherry Grove Drug Store and on both sides of the road, I call it “The Swamp”. The swamp may be just a swamp to some people but to others it’s a beautiful piece of what once was a wetland brimming with wildlife of all sorts. Portions of the swamp have already been filled in and houses built and sold. I don’t know how the developers were able to do it because I once, along with my brother and a city council member, hunted ducks where the houses once stood and we were standing in nearly waist deep water. There is a law that says wetlands are good and right and therefore should not be developed because they serve a higher purpose.
It is up to you to help us save this property and to uphold that higher purpose. We aren’t asking for you to use imminent domain as a tool to acquire the property. Someone has been paying taxes yearly on the property and they should be receiving compensation for the property. We are just asking that the city or the state purchase the property and turn it back into a vibrant wildlife filled nature preserve complete with boardwalks around and through the property.
We elected you in hopes you would help the city grow in a controlled and balanced manner. You have done a pretty good job but more can be done. You have diligently represented the interest of the many businesses that want to call North Myrtle Beach home. We are just asking that you do the same for the people who wish the city to be more than just a concrete and asphalt tourist town. We are asking for a balance between developers and recreational interests.
It is already too late to achieve a balance between development and recreational interests as most of the land within the city limits has already been lost to the bulldozers and chainsaws. This piece of property is the last viable piece of nature left! There is no more and once that is gone there can’t be anymore.
The property would be a magnificent gateway into Cherry Grove Beach and therefore a boon to attract tourists to the city. I can see in the future with your power and leadership, riding down Sea Mountain Highway heading towards the ocean and looking on both sides of the road and watching people riding bikes, walking down trails taking photographs and all sorts of other outdoor activities. The ditches would have to be dammed allowing the water to once again flow as nature intended it to flow. I can see the return of waterfowl, songbirds and reptiles of all sizes and shapes returning to call the swamp their home. Possibly even a landing in the middle of the swamp so children can fish instead of staying home playing X-Box! Anything is possible if you would just think outside of the box.
You are good at attracting business to North Myrtle Beach and you’ve done an excellent job combining the interest of business and the interest of recreation in regard to the sports complex and Heritage Shores. You found middle ground between both sides and it is a gold star in your hat for all of you! However, we come to you, our elected leaders, to do more. We are asking you, the leaders of our city, to practice and use the qualities you said you possessed, honesty, integrity, compassion and passion. Honesty builds credibility and trust, so we trust you to represent both sides. Good political leaders use compassion to see the needs of the people. They lead and determine the best course of action that would be the best benefit to all they represent. For example, the sports complex or the boat landing at 53rd Avenue North. They both attract tourists who are interested in not just shopping centers but outdoor activities and both sides win.
Leaders must have the trust of the people who voted them into office and this requires the highest standard of integrity. You told us you possessed these qualities. Now we, the concerned citizens of North Myrtle Beach, are asking you as leaders to step forward and once again get the ball rolling to preserve these wetlands.
The swamp is the last piece of natural land left. After it is gone there will not be any more land that can be used for a preserve of any sort. You said you would do what is right and now we are calling in a favor.
Help us. Please help us. Do what has to be done to get the ball rolling. You said you were leaders, now lead. The future of the “swamp” is in your hands.
Let the swamp be your legacy not your downfall!