In October, at the height of the discussion related to parking changes for the 2019 season, a number of Rehoboth commissioners expressed an interest in exploring the possibility of a downtown parking garage.
During a commissioner workshop Feb. 4, commissioners got their first look at how a proposed public-private partnership could make that garage a reality.
Pitching it as a mobility center, not a parking garage, Colonial Parking President Jed Hatfield said it would be a joint venture between the city, Colonial Parking and EDiS Company, which helped design the new city hall project.
He said the idea would be to build a 300-space mobility center on the parking lot east of city hall. He said that’s really the only place in town that could accommodate the structure. He said it’s called a mobility center because it services a wide range of mobility options – bikes, scooters, centralized location for Uber or Lyft.
Hatfield estimated the cost of a mobility center to be approximately $10 million. He said the way the public-private partnership would work is fairly simple – the city would lease the land to the venture team; EDiS and Colonial Parking would design, build, fund and manage the operation; the city and the joint venture team would share net operating income.
Commissioner discussion during the workshop was limited.
Commissioner Lisa Schlosser was one of the commissioners who expressed interest in a parking garage, and she said she was the one who asked for the presentation to be put on the agenda. She said she still wasn’t sure if it was a good idea, but there’s at least the possibility the city wouldn’t be on the hook for much up-front financing.
Commissioner Toni Sharp asked if this proposal had been vetted by the city’s parking committee. She said she thought one of the discussion points related to parking changes throughout town was trying to create more parking, without actually making more parking.
Hatfield said he had spoken with committee Chair Linda Kauffman, but not the committee as a whole.
Sharp said she didn’t have a problem with the committee vetting the proposal, but she said she would like to see the city continue toward a more holistic approach to parking.
Commissioner Pat Coluzzi said she would like to see a city-wide traffic flow analysis completed.
There was some concern voiced during discussions related to a parking garage bringing in more cars. Mayor Paul Kuhns said he’s not sure it would. He said it would be nice to get the cars circling city streets looking for a spot off the streets.
In the end, the commissioners forwarded the proposal to the parking committee. As of press deadline Feb. 14, the committee doesn’t have a meeting scheduled through March.