Differences of opinion on intent and procedure continue to bog down meetings of the Lewes Beach Parking Committee.
During a Jan. 5 discussion regarding a policy for removing encroachments from the city’s right of way on streets between Cedar Street and Bay Avenue, committee member Khalil Saliba questioned why they were moving ahead with a policy when it has not definitively been determined that more parking is needed.
“We need a better handle on the capacity of Lewes Beach from Savannah Road to Roosevelt Inlet,” he said. “Parking cannot be addressed unless we understand what our capacity is.”
Saliba said he does not want the city to create more parking to bring more people to the beach.
“I want to preserve and protect Lewes Beach, which is our prime asset,” he said. “I want to preserve and protect the citizens of Lewes Beach, who have come here for quiet and enjoyment and a quality of life that has suddenly changed over the last few years.”
He said the focus should not be on increasing parking availability, particularly if it’s going to change the landscape of a resident’s home, even if it’s in the city’s right of way.
“I’m not comfortable going in and telling someone that’s had trees, shrubbery and other things there that we’re suddenly going to take it away because it’s a nice parking spot,” he said. “I think our focus should be, first and foremost, doing what we can to preserve the quality of life for our residents and our taxpayers in Lewes. Taxpayers of Lewes should be the priority here.”
Committee member Kevin McGuiness also shared concerns about the group’s direction. As someone who was not involved in the previous iteration of the committee, he said he is unclear what the group is working toward. A review of the previous committee’s recommendations that were adopted by city council and a status update on the current policy’s success may be appropriate in determining what steps to take moving forward, he suggested.
Councilman Rob Morgan, the committee chair, said he briefly discussed beach capacity with city engineer Charlie O’Donnell prior to the committee’s first meeting. He vowed to make capacity a discussion point on the agenda of the committee’s next meeting Thursday, Jan. 14. Also on the agenda will be a discussion about expanding the public parking lots at the beach. Committee member Dennis Reardon intends to make a motion that the committee should suggest the city council refrain from moving forward with that idea. Also planned for the Jan. 14 meeting is a discussion about a possible parking permit system for Lewes Beach.
The committee is required to submit a report to mayor and city council by Jan. 31. Members will meet at least three more times in an attempt to craft recommendations to send to council.