Additional parking spaces on Dickinson Avenue in Dewey Beach have made the area unsafe for pedestrians, town officials say.
At an Aug. 9 town council meeting, Town Manager Marc Appelbaum said the area, which sits between Ruddertowne and the Rusty Rudder, sees a lot of foot traffic, especially at night.
Appelbaum said Highway One Partners Alex Pires and John Snow, who own the Rusty Rudder, have agreed to pay for construction of a sidewalk on the north side of Dickinson Avenue if 29 parking spots are removed from the center of the road. Highway One also agreed to compensate the town for revenue that would be lost from the spaces for three years, Appelbaum said.
The town and Ruddertowne developer Dewey Beach Enterprises signed a mutual agreement in February 2011, which allowed Ruddertowne to be built in excess of the town’s 35-foot height limit. In exchange, DBE agreed to provide the town with certain amenities, including 60 additional parking spaces on Van Dyke and Dickinson avenues.
After the agreement was signed, 29 spots were installed in the center of Dickinson Avenue in addition to the existing spots on the right and left-hand side of the road.
DBE would construct a sidewalk on the south side of road, Appelbaum said. “The middle parking would come out,” he said.
Cindy Issel of Highway One said Dickinson Avenue is the busiest street in Dewey Beach aside from Route 1. She said delivery trucks cannot pull onto Dickinson, and fire trucks and ambulances can’t get through the congestion during an emergency.
Issel said Highway One would be willing to compensate the town in exchange for a nicer, safer environment on Dickinson Avenue.
Dewey Beach Police Chief Sam Mackert said emergency vehicles sometimes must park on Route 1 to access Dickinson Avenue on the bayside. He also said Rehoboth Beach Fire Company Chief Harry Miller has complained about not being able to access the road.
Appelbaum said Dewey Beach Public Safety Committee and Delaware Department of Transportation support the proposal.
Commissioner Joy Howell asked if only half the spaces on Dickinson could be removed. “This was one of the amenities DBE agreed to,” she said. “Can they make up those spaces in phase two?”
Appelbaum said the addition of sidewalks would make the road narrower, and congestion would persist if half the parking spaces remained.
Mayor Diane Hanson said, “The problem is, it may be a liability.”
Infrastructure committee Chairman Rick Judge said the project could lend itself to making Dewey Beach more environmentally friendly.
A master plan to address stormwater discharge into Rehoboth Bay calls for permeable pavement to be installed throughout town, a material that allows stormwater to seep through while filtering pollutants from the water.
If DBE and Highway One were willing to pay for permeable sidewalks on either side of the road, Dickinson Avenue would be safer, more attractive and more environmentally friendly, Judge said.