Looking to support downtown businesses, Rehoboth Beach commissioners voted unanimously in favor of offering Meterless Mondays through at least August.
As approved during a special meeting July 21, Meterless Mondays will begin Monday, July 27, and run through Monday, Aug. 31. The promotion offers limited hours of free parking in the evenings, starting at 4 p.m. There are five Mondays in August, making six Mondays for the promotion. For years now, Dewey Beach has held a similar promotion, allowing free parking after 5 p.m., Monday-Wednesday, through the entire summer.
Anything the city can do these days to help stir up business is a good thing, said Mayor Paul Kuhns.
The business-friendly move came hours after commissioners learned Delaware had been placed back on the regional quarantine lists of a few states. Last week Delaware had been removed from the same lists.
Whatever good was done a week ago has been undone, said Kuhns.
There was some discussion by commissioners about waiting until the first Monday of August because they wanted to make sure Monday was the best day to hold the promotion, and they wanted to know how suspending the meters would affect city revenue. Ultimately, they decided to move forward with the promotion.
“The sooner we do this the better,” said Commissioner Pat Coluzzi. “Businesses are suffering. I do want to know the data, but I don’t know if it would change anything.”
Commissioner Richard Byrne supported moving forward on the action because he thinks it will take a week or two for it to gain steam. This is probably something the city should have done four or six weeks ago, he said.
Commissioner Lisa Schlosser said she would like to get support from the business community – especially from the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce and Rehoboth Beach Main Street.
Chamber President Carol Everhart said she would have to run the promotion by the chamber board, but she didn’t imagine they’d be against it.
Main Street Executive Director Dan Slagle was the person who suggested the promotion to commissioners after speaking with businesses over the past week. He said he would also have to run the idea by his board, but he thought they would be supportive.
Also left undecided was if parking would be enforced all day on Labor Day, which is Monday, Sept. 7. According to city code, meters are supposed to be in effect through the second Sunday following Labor Day.
Commissioner Edward Chrzanowski said it would be tough for the city to pass up the holiday weekend revenue, but Byrne said the issue could be revisited sometime in August. The other commissioners agreed the issue could be revisited.
Christmas in July promotion
Meterless Monday coincides with another business-friendly initiative Main Street and the Chamber of Commerce have started – Christmas in July.
Slagle said it’s short notice, but businesses are hurting, and he hopes this is something that can help. The idea is to shop here in July for December holiday gifts, he said.
Slagle said businesses are encouraged to decorate and play holiday music.
Everhart said the chamber is supporting the campaign. Hopefully it helps, she said, adding the chamber’s decorations are already up.
City operational, staffing update
Rehoboth Beach Police Chief Keith Banks updated commissioners on the operational ongoings of the city during the meeting. He said of the 15 lifeguards that were out because of COVID-19, all were back except two, and they were expected to be back by the end of the week.
Banks said the two cadets who had been quarantining due to possible exposure to COVID-19 were back on duty after negative tests came back. To date, he said, the city has handed out over 17,000 masks to people on the streets and Boardwalk, and also written 57 citations related to COVID-19 violations.
Banks said cadets continue to be berated by people who don’t want to wear masks. He said a cadet recently quit because he was tired of the harassment.
It’s similar to concerns Banks voiced weeks ago. People have drawn a line in the sand and they either comply or they don’t, he said. Most of the people are complying, but some people aren’t even stopping when approached, he said.
“Our main function is to continue to educate and ask for compliance,” said Banks, recognizing the recent heat and humidity. “We’re trying to be tolerant.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information from the July 21 meeting and with the time that free parking starts for Meterless Mondays.