FOLLY BEACH -- Erosion caused by Hurricane Irene last week has forced officials to close Folly Beach County Park through the rest of the year.
Meanwhile, Folly Beach city officials want the public to know that the rest of the popular seaside island is open as usual, and that a large Labor Day weekend crowd is expected. City Administrator Toni Connor-Rooks said some radio stations reported Folly Beach is closed for the weekend -- but that's not true -- she said Friday.
"Only the county park at the west end is closed," Connor-Rooks said. Although some beach-front homes are still dealing with erosion damages stemming from Irene, the island's popular beaches, swimming areas and businesses are open as usual, she said.
Also remaining open is the Edwin S. Taylor Folly Beach Fishing Pier, said Phil Macchia, director of operations for the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission. He said the county's other two beach parks, Isle of Palms County Park and Kiawah Beachwalker Park, did not suffer hurricane damage and are also open for normal operations.
At the Folly park, buildings were damaged, power was knocked out, dunes were eviscerated and one-third of the parking area is gone. Debris was scattered through the park. "The storm did significant damage to most of Folly Beach County Park," Macchia said.
He said a structural evaluation is planned and once conducted will assist staff in determining the steps needed before reopening the park in 2012.
"We are currently addressing the damage issues and undergoing an agency-wide effort to clean the beach. Our goal is to work with the proper authorities to get this treasure back open to the public and we are doing everything we can to make that happen," he said.
Macchia said rentals of the Pelican Watch Shelter located at the park will continue as planned, but rental attendees will be restricted to the shelter area and beach in close proximity to the shelter.
PRC events and programs scheduled at the park will also continue as planned, he said.