Time for a change in Dewey Beach
The time has come to make changes in Dewey - changes that will help ensure that the future of Dewey is one of a family-friendly destination, and no longer a drunk culture reality show in the making. This is what everyone desires (except for the bars), and it’s time to start making it happen.
A first step must be to curtail the drunk and disorderly habituation that occurs far too often. The bars are responsible for this, and so is the town. For too long now, the bars have allowed this to happen in the name of their profits, while they give little to help make the town better. The initiative of the last three years by the town to enact a fair-share principle now appears to be dead, thanks to the backroom deal between Alex Pires and Pete Schwartzkopf. Schwartzkopf adamantly denies this, but Pires acknowledged that he’d drop the Delaware Supreme Court challenge to the prior ruling if HB333 passed; so what do you think happened?
I heard Chief Mackert plead for help from the council and town manager in the recent council meeting, following a volatile Tuesday night situation precipitated by Pires’ NorthBeach crowds. I’m sure the town is trying to find a solution, but the real answer to the town’s troubles lie in reeling in the bar and group house culture that rages in Dewey from May to September. Until that happens, nothing will change.
Property owners and their renters, through the accommodations tax, have been contributing between $350,000 and $480,000 per year to the town’s coffers for the last five years, and the target is $480,000 in this year’s budget. According to the 2014 budget posted on the town website, the bars and businesses will pay a total of about $150,000 in license fees. That’s a factor of more than 3 to 1. If the drunk and disorderly culture were reduced to an acceptable level, the majority of the $300,000 the town pays for seasonal police would be unnecessary. These are not new or surprising numbers - they’ve been discussed for years in town political and public safety discussions.
It’s time to do something to flip this situation back to a path that will lead to families being the mainstay of Dewey summers. The only way to accomplish this is to rein in the bars and group house bedlam. If the bars won’t pay their fair share and act like true partners in the success of Dewey, the town must act to control them and restrict the bad behavior they facilitate.
When will we have a council and town government that will act on this?