Parking for the July 4 fireworks in Rehoboth Beach will be available at the Gordons Pond lot in Cape Henlopen State Park, with no shuttle buses planned to take people into Rehoboth.
Officials from Rehoboth Beach Main Street, Delaware State Police and Delaware Department of Transportation say the private lot adjacent to Jungle Jim’s on Route 1, used for fireworks parking for seven years, is available again this year, but it was ruled out because of safety concerns.
DelDOT spokeswoman Louise Holt said people coming to the event park freely on their own around the Rehoboth area. “In years past, no one has directed people where to park. The Gordons Pond lot is simply an alternate parking option,” she said.
In previous years, parking at the Route 1 lot had been advertised and promoted, with shuttle bus service taking visitors from the lot into Rehoboth.
This year, signs will direct visitors to Gordons Pond parking lot, Holt said, and message boards will be updated to advise motorists when Gordons Pond is full.
Kathy McGuiness, chairwoman of Main Street’s fireworks committee, said in late spring, the committee had been told the lot adjacent to Jungle Jim’s would not be available for July 4 parking; later, she said, the committee found the lot would be available, but DelDOT and Delaware State Police raised concerns over pedestrian safety.
McGuiness and Main Street Executive Director Krys Johnson said the committee decided to take the word of DelDOT and state police and not use the usual Route 1 lot.
McGuiness said Epworth United Methodist Church and at the baseball fields on Holland Glade Road were considered, but DelDOT and Delaware State Police ruled against using them. She said the church and ball fields could be options in the future.
Master Cpl. Gary Fournier, spokesman for Delaware State Police, said, “Due to the public safety concerns as well as pedestrian safety, recommendations were made by the committee, which included Main Street Rehoboth, DSP, and DelDOT, not to continue to park in the field.”
At press time, neither DelDOT officials nor state police responded to requests to explain their safety concerns and why the Route 1 lot is no longer usable.
Rehoboth City Manager Sharon Lynn said the Gordons Pond plan is not her preferred option because of the traffic it will bring into Rehoboth. However, she did not wish to oppose the recommendation of law enforcement not to use the Route 1 lot.
The plan to have parking at Gordons Pond was formally opposed by the North Shores Board of Governors in a letter to Lynn. The board was concerned about congestion, crowd control and pedestrian safety from the fireworks; the road to Gordons Pond is the main access road through North Shores. Lynn said she has been in contact with the North Shores board to ease their concerns.
Holt said in an email, “There will be no bottlenecks going through North Shores and north Rehoboth. Traffic will be controlled by Rehoboth Police Department, Delaware State Police and DelDOT.”
Holt also wrote, “Ocean Drive already has parking restrictions posted. These are public roadways. The shoulders will be coned off to further discourage illegal parking.”
Holt said the fireworks committee considered Tanger Outlets parking lots, but the outlets refused the request. Rehoboth Elementary School was also explored but was unavailable because the Rehoboth Beach Classic soccer tournament is scheduled July 4 weekend.
Parking at Gordons Pond will be $4 for Delaware residents and $8 for out-of-state residents; McGuiness said parking permits for Cape Henlopen State Park will also be honored.
Visitors can also park at the Park & Ride off Route 1 to bus into town or take the Jolly Trolley, which will run from Rehoboth to Dewey Beach and back. Cars can also park in downtown Rehoboth; the Bandstand area of Rehoboth Avenue will close to cars at 6 p.m., with the first block of Rehoboth Avenue following at 7 p.m. Spectators are encouraged to arrive early and stay after the fireworks for a concert by the Funsters at the Bandstand.
The fireworks show will start about 9:15 p.m. Friday, July 4, on the beach near the Star of the Sea condominium at 307 S. Boardwalk.
Main Street's Johnson said, “We appreciate the concerns of residents, and we will continue to pursue the overall viability and the outstanding parking and traffic concerns of the downtown fireworks show moving forward. ”