TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) – Tensions were high at Thursday’s town hall meeting as Tybee Island residents finally got the chance to let their voices be heard about college parties on the beach.
One of the top concerns of many residents was public safety, and city officials reassured them that they are working with county and state government to make sure they are prepared to the best of their ability next time.
Dozens of residents gathered at the council chambers to discuss the issues Orange Crush brought to the island. City manager Shawn Gillen and Mayor Shirley Sessions opened the meeting by thanking the emergency crews for their efforts that weekend.
In total, 111,000 people were on the island, which was twice as much as any other Orange Crush weekend.
Gillen answered questions residents submitted and said moving forward, there will be an extensive emergency plan in place for large unpermitted events.
But many think Gillen should face consequences for how this year’s gathering was handled.
A resident said, “People keep saying that you’re the one to blame on this, but what I would really like to know is when are you going to resign and let somebody else do your job because you messed up.”
Gillen said he’s going to remain Tybee Island’s city manager.
“I appreciate your comment but I’m not going to be resigning. I think we did prepare for a weekend that we expected numbers of based on the limitations we had,” Gillen said, “and that’s what we had to work with, within those parameters.”
City leaders say they don’t have the authority to shut down the beach. And they say the Department of Justice has told the city to treat Orange Crush like any other event.
The city manager says he and city staff will continue to work diligently to make sure events like this are controlled.