042017 Beaches: County misses walkway repair deadline
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Beaches: County misses walkway repair deadline

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Public walkways to the Litchfield Beaches that weren’t repaired by Georgetown County’s self-imposed Easter deadline will be completed in the next few weeks, according the director of Parks and Recreation.

“I know everyone’s frustrated,” said Beth Goodale. “There’s just been an overwhelming number of things.”

A contractor began work in February repairing 55 beach walkways that were damaged or destroyed in October by Hurricane Matthew. “We’re finished with the majority of them,” Goodale said Wednesday, citing emails from the contractor. “South Litchfield’s done.”

Ladd Dezendorf, president of the Litchfield Beaches Property Owners Association, took a bike ride along North Litchfield on Wednesday. “I’ve seen zero evidence of any work,” he said.

Those walkways that are open are ones that had minor damage or where residents went out and made their own repairs, Dezendorf said. “The county told me they’d be done by Easter,” he added.

The association maintains the walkways with accommodations tax grants from the county. It considered asking for funds

from the county to make the repairs, but the county said it would get reimbursed for the work from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Dezendorf said.

The plan was to repair every other walkway, starting in Garden City and working south to Litchfield Beach. “We ended up putting a few handicapped ones ahead,” Goodale said.

But after checking further, Goodale said work on the handicapped access at North Litchfield isn’t due to start until next week. Work at a walkway with a ramp at Litchfield Beach is still under way. It isn’t marked as handicapped access because it doesn’t meet the federal requirements.

Julie Williams, a resident in the Bridges neighborhood west of Highway 17 in Litchfield, said she called Goodale in February to ask that the Litchfield Beach ramp be made a priority. “Who wouldn’t want to make a handicapped access available as a priority?” Williams asked. “There’s still no handicapped access available.”

Goodale said the Litchfield Beach ramp and the handicapped access at North Litchfield needed additional engineering work from the county Capital Projects division as well as state approvals. “I can’t disagree” with the need for handicapped access, she said, and noted “they did the emergency vehicle ones first.”

Dezendorf said the county has been a good partner in managing the walkways, but he’s also getting calls and emails about the repairs. “I’m not getting any answers,” he said.

The repairs will move to North Litchfield next week, Goodale said, starting with the handicapped walkway. Work will then resume at Garden City.

Williams said she’ll be watching the work at the ramp in Litchfield Beach. Her brother and his family delayed a visit by two weeks expecting the work to be completed by Easter, as Goodale announced earlier. He is a veteran who lost a leg in Vietnam. “I still don’t have handicapped access for them,” she said.

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