Plans to improve the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal so more visitors and residents will use it are progressing, but any major canal project is going to require money.
Pat Coluzzi, president of the nonprofit Lewes Rehoboth Canal Improvement Association gave Lewes Mayor and City Council an update on its plans July 8.
Coluzzi said plans call for the water taxi to dock in Rehoboth Beach at a site north of the drawbridge. She said the association had concerns about the steep slope.
Coluzzi said Kercher Engineering Inc., a firm based in Newark with an office in Georgetown, found no problem with the site and its proposed use after conducting a geotechnical study and evaluation.
The water taxi is currently boarded at the Rehoboth Bay Marina in Dewey Beach.
In Lewes, the water taxi now departs from Fisherman’s Wharf on Anglers Road. Lewes’ City Dock would be the preferred departure site, but the city recently posted it, “Use at your own risk.”
Lewes Mayor Jim Ford and Lewes City Councilman Ted Becker said the dock is old and needs to be replaced. In Rehoboth, in addition to being a water taxi stop, the boat dock would serve as a launch and landing area for canoes and kayaks.
Coluzzi said engineers have estimated it would cost about $100,000 to build a new Lewes dock and an estimated $800,000 to build the Rehoboth facility.
In April, Sussex County Council awarded the association a $2,000 grant for the project. The cities of Lewes and Rehoboth Beach shared the cost of the geotechnical study, but neither city has additional money for the project.
Coluzzi said Cape Water Taxi is an existing centerpiece in the association’s plan to improve the waterway.
She praised the entrepreneurial efforts of Capt. Dave Green, owner/operator of the water taxi, which began service last year.
Green started service between Lewes and Rehoboth with “Mummichog,” a 32-foot-long Trident TriToon with seating for up to 26 passengers.
This year Green added “Discovery,” a 54-foot-long, custom-built vessel with seating for up to 70 passengers.
Both boats are fully safety-equipped and U.S. Coast Guard inspected and certified. In addition to water taxi service between Lewes and Rehoboth, Cape Water Taxi offers special packages such as sunset cruises, ecotours, To the Bay and Back Cruise, Indian River Cruise, Kid Camp and special-event charter cruises.
The Rehoboth facility would feature a switchback ramp so the dock would be accessible to everyone. Nearing street level, there would be a small landscaped park with sitting areas.
How parking would be handled at street-level has not yet been determined.
Coluzzi said the water taxi is a unique transportation option in the area, a novelty that would draw visitors and provide an interesting and fun alternative to traveling on Route 1.
“People will be able to experience both Lewes and Rehoboth Beach during the same trip,” she said.
Coluzzi, a Rehoboth Beach commissioner, said she would soon give the same report to that panel.
For additional information about the association, go to www.canal-connection.org.
For reservations or additional water taxi information, call 302-644-7334 or go to www.capewatertaxi.com.