Rehoboth missed chance to display new City Hall

March 20, 2017

Rehoboth Beach commissioners recently toured the new City Hall going up in the heart of Rehoboth Beach.

The building has been controversial since at least 2008, driven from the start by a need to update police facilities. After nearly a decade of discussion, the building is finally taking shape. Cape Gazette reporter Ryan Mavity accompanied city officials on a recent tour to hear what they had to say and see the construction for himself.

The Cape Gazette planned to provide readers with photographs so everyone could see how more than $20 million in tax dollars are being spent.

Apparently, we'll all have to wait.

Contractors Whiting-Turner of Baltimore say no photographs are permitted during the tour. It's easy to see why a contractor would limit access to a construction site and limit photographs. Who knows what legal problems could arise and be documented as the commissioners make their way through the structure.

At the same time, this is a project that has been plagued by change orders – Whiting-Turner accounts for more than $475,000 in already settled change orders, with more than $100,000 more pending. Change orders are expected during major projects; some are requested by the client; others occur when unexpected problems arise.

But in light of weeks of discussion over cost increases, this tour was an ideal time to explain the changes, not only to the commissioners, but to the public as well, and a fine time to show off the progress the public has been waiting to see.

Rehoboth property owners, by a comfortable margin, approved a referendum to pay for this new City Hall, and it's safe to say most people look forward to new facilities not only for the police, but also for city staff and the public who use the building.

Whiting-Turner – and the city officials who hired them – have missed an opportunity to show the taxpayers how their money is being spent.

This is a public building paid for by the public. It's time to let the public see what it's getting.

  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Laura Ritter, news editor, and Dennis Forney, publisher, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, associate publisher.