Dewey should keep free parking nights

August 4, 2023

Dewey Beach has a good thing going. While Dewey is well known for its nightlife scene, the tiny tourist town has created a nice family atmosphere, too. Integral to that is inviting families to town after 5 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, when they can park for free and enjoy a budget-friendly summer night.

Recognizing this, the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce offers Movie Night every Monday and Bonfire Night every Wednesday. Both weekly events are free and held on the beach at Dagsworthy Avenue. If desired, families can enjoy a meal at one of Dewey’s many restaurants, then head to the beach for a fun family night.

If town commissioners move ahead with a proposal to eliminate free parking nights, many families may no longer be able to participate.

Town Manager Bill Zolper recently lamented about how much revenue the town left on the table when the Fourth of July fell on a Tuesday. A possible solution could be to mirror surf-fishing permits at state parks, where free parking is in effect unless the day falls on a federal holiday. In 2023, that would’ve included Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Fourth of July and Labor Day.

If all free parking nights are eliminated, Zolper estimates the town will gain an additional $200,000, which could pay for other necessities such as additional police officers. 

But with so few free activities during the peak season, these chamber-sponsored events are even more important. It is our hope that Dewey’s leaders realize it’s not always about maximizing parking revenue.

They could consider another way to raise extra money: Extend the parking season. Zolper estimates the town could raise an additional $90,000 by charging for parking May 1 to Sept. 30, which is 30 days more than the existing season. This proposal is more prudent, as visitors are coming to the Cape Region more often throughout the year. Extending the season is a good compromise for retaining free parking nights, as it gives the town more money while preserving something that has made Dewey more friendly and inviting to people of all ages.

  • Editorials are considered and written by Cape Gazette Editorial Board members, including Publisher Chris Rausch, Editor Jen Ellingsworth, News Editor Nick Roth and reporters Ron MacArthur and Chris Flood. 

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