Lewes council updates recreational policy

New measure allows year-round utilization of public parks
November 29, 2022

The City of Lewes is welcoming commercial activity into its parks and beaches. While a restaurant won’t be coming to Canalfront Park anytime soon, officials have been working on an update that could pave the way for increased commercial recreation. Parks and recreation commission Chair Janet Reeves presented mayor and city council with the finalized proposal Nov. 14.

Lewes does not generally permit businesses to operate in parks or on the beach. The exception to the rule is if the focus is on recreation. Yoga, boot camps and tai chi classes are examples activities Lewes would allow. The activities offer the public benefits and do not require permanent installations on the taxpayers’ property. In an effort to increase year-round utilization and ensure compliance with city code, officials are updating the recreation activities permit policy.

Businesses and organizations were only able to apply for a permit January through March if they wanted to hold recreational activities during parking meter season, which runs May 1 to Oct. 14. A one-time fee of $100 was assessed for the permit. Those time frames will remain, but businesses can now apply June through August for a free permit covering Oct. 15 to April 30.

The price of the in-season permit has also been adjusted. The proposed fee schedule begins at $10 a day in 2023, topping out at a maximum charge of $150 for the season. It escalates $25 per year until 2027, when the maximum charge during meter season will be $250, the rate Bethany Beach assesses. The daily charge will remain the same. 

Signage is allowed, but all signs must conform with the city’s sign ordinance, and directional signs can only be posted on the day of the event. Permit holders will be required to remove signs, as well as any trash or waste generated.

Permit-based activities are not allowed in Canalfront Park or on the beaches during parking meter hours, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on weekends in George H.P. Smith Park. Those wishing to use Canalfront Park still need to ensure the event does not conflict with any council-approved Friends of Canalfront Park events. Stango Park is off limits for permit holders on Tuesday evenings June through August, and between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily.

Of note is a carryover from the 2018 policy that states only one recreational provider per category is allowed to operate in a specific park on any given day. For instance, there will not be two separate yoga classes being held at the same time in the same park. The first business to acquire the permit in a particular park will lay claim to that category’s recreation. Officials say the permits will be given on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Mayor and city council voted unanimously to approve the new policy, which takes effect in 2023.


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