Rehoboth to review July 4 traffic plans

Crowds arrive late but still fill resorts
July 24, 2014

Rehoboth Beach officials say July 4 was a spectacular event, but they are already planning improvements for next year.

City Manager Sharon Lynn, now a veteran of her first fireworks as city manager, said the weekend went as well as could be expected with all city departments prepared for the annual crush of visitors.

“We need to look at possible different, uses of space," she said. "The Y was mentioned; they have 200 spots. That would give direct access to the highway."

Lynn also said, "The city wasn’t built for this kind of capacity, so we’re always going to have parking problems. We’re always going to have problems getting in and out."

Kathy McGuiness, chairwoman of Rehoboth Main Street’s fireworks committee, said, other opportunities may include parking at Tanger Outlets.

Mayor Sam Cooper said visitors for the fireworks are more knowledgeable than they get credit for. Indeed, many of those in attendance had several Rehoboth fireworks shows under their belts.

Kelly Finn and Angel Firth of New Jersey were on their fourth trip.

“It’s just a great time,” they said. “We love Rehoboth.”

The Cook family of Alexandria, Va., said they stayed in Rehoboth this year after staying in Bethany Beach in past years.

“It’s very family-oriented,” patriarch Lou Cook said. “It’s a fun, relaxing thing to come to.”

Kathy McGuiness, said a debriefing will be held later to discuss improvements for next year’s show. Lynn said getting people out of town is an area she would like to improve.

Rehoboth took in $114,000 in parking revenue for the weekend, $80,000 in quarters and $34,000 from the Parkmobile service, Lynn said.

Julie Theyerl, spokeswoman for DART, said the resort transit service provided more than 8,600 passenger trips July 4, less than last year which saw 9,900 trips.The Park and Ride parked just over 500 cars before closing at 7 p.m. when it reached capacity.

Theyerl said customers who were not able to get in parked elsewhere, walking to Shuttle Road and paying cash for the bus at the fare box. After the fireworks ended, she said, 10 buses shuttled passengers back to the Park and Ride.

Crowds were generally well behaved; Rehoboth Police Chief Keith Banks said traffic was heavy, but there were no major incidents. Arrests were limited to minor criminal and traffic arrests, Banks said. He said lifeguards closed the beach during the day July 4, which may have led to the late-arriving crowd, since people could not camp out on the beach before fireworks.

Dewey Beach Police Chief Sam Mackert said Dewey seemed to have had more complaints than in years past, but for the most part there were no major issues to report on July 4.

Addressing the town's public safety committee July 8, Mackert said the most significant incidents occurred between the hours of midnight and 2 a.m. July 5. One incident included a man who was jumping from the roof of one building to another, who slipped and fell. He damaged his face pretty well, said the chief, but the injuries were not life-threatening. A fight on Rogers Avenue attracted about 100 people, but once Dewey and state police officers showed up, they dispersed quickly, Mackert said.

Warren Jones, spokesman for the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Co., said the number of fire and ambulance calls was about the same as the year before. He said on July 4 there were 23 ambulance calls and five fire calls, compared to 24 ambulance calls and nine fire calls in 2013.

Kelly Griffin, spokeswoman for Beebe Healthcare, said the emergency department saw a high volume of patients with injuries such as lacerations, shortness of breath and falls. On July 6 alone, 206 people came to the ER, but Griffin said that number is typical for this time of year.

Griffin said there were fewer surf injuries because the July 4 storm kept people off the beach, and fewer motor vehicle crashes, which she attributed to people traveling at slower speeds because of the heavy traffic.