FOLLY BEACH — A group seeking the return of drinking on the whole beach said its petition could be ready for City Council after March.
Omar Colon of “Voices of Reason — Folly Beach” said they’ve collected around 450 signatures toward their goal of 550.
Colon and his supporters are trying to put the drinking-on-the-beach question to a citywide referendum after action by council prevented that from happening last year.
To get the matter reopened, Colon’s group needs to get the signatures of 15 percent of the island’s registered voters, or about 330 people, on a petition for council to consider.
“Our first drive maybe covered 10 percent of the island, so we have a lot of real estate left to cover,” said Colon, owner and manager of Bert’s Market on the island.
Council ended Folly’s long-established permissive beach booze attitude after several high-profile events drew large police responses last year, including a July Fourth riot where thousands appeared for a music-charged party.
Once Colon’s petition is filed and the names are confirmed as legal Folly residents, council has the option of adopting the wording as written, or sending the issue to a townwide vote.
Colon’s idea calls for allowing drinking on the beach year-round, except from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from May 1 to mid-September.
Beverages also would be banned on the beach during the 24 hours of the three major summer holidays: Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day.
Mayor Tim Goodwin said earlier that since the ban took place, there has been no noticeable drop-off in tourism-related tax revenues and that a majority of the island seems happy with the results. Other residents report the beach has been less rowdy and brought about a greater quality of life.
“I think most residents recognize that the booze ban has made a remarkable difference,” said Susan Breslin, who supported council’s move to halt drinking on the beach.
“Traffic is way down,” she said. “Because families are back, and they come three or four to a car. There’s enough parking now.”
Breslin added that the “loutish” behavior that she said included “urinating on people’s lawns, telling residents to move if they don’t like it,” is gone, as well.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.
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