Parking meters will not be installed this summer at Roosevelt Inlet in Lewes.
Lewes Mayor and City Council voted unanimously March 14 to delineate parking spaces in the lot, but they will not move forward on charging people to use it.
Prior to this summer season, the city will place parking bumpers in the lot to clearly identify 33 angled parking spaces. Due to the stoned surface, lines cannot be painted. Two spaces nearest the dune will be paved to add ADA accessibility.
At a March 10 public hearing, several residents raised concerns about metering the Roosevelt Inlet parking lot, with many saying it would create a burden for economically challenged individuals and families who regularly use the lot to fish, go to the beach or watch sunsets.
The plan for Roosevelt Inlet is just one part of a larger effort to improve safety and better organize parking on Lewes Beach. The city had previously considered adding parking permits for the residential streets between Savannah Road and Roosevelt Inlet, but deferred any action until after this summer.
Councilman Khalil Saliba said the implementation of a parking permit program will not be free, which may force council to revisit the issue of metering Roosevelt Inlet in the future.
“There could be substantial costs we’re going to incur in doing all this, and we may need the revenue for parking and permit parking to administer the program,” he said. “I’m not trying to be a killjoy here. Lewes is a prosperous town in many ways, but this program could cost a lot more than we think, and we may have to generate a new revenue source to support it.”
Council took action on three other parking-related matters at its March 14 meeting. For better parking enforcement, the city will identify all no-parking zones and all emergency-access streets in city code. Council will also allow residents with no off-street parking to apply for two reserved on-street parking spaces. Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Council took no action on allowing or prohibiting parking on paper streets and former paper streets that are now open space. Paper streets are natural areas that are mapped as streets, but have not been improved. Council opted to stick with the status quo and revisit the topic if it becomes an issue in the future.
Council also took no action on painting no-parking zones on the streets between Bay Avenue and Cedar Street. Due to narrow pavement and inconsistent rights of way, they determined it would be difficult to do it in an aesthetically acceptable way.
Parking meter increases likely
At its March 11 budget workshop, Lewes Mayor and City Council discussed ways to create more revenue. One approach that received consensus was a 50-cent increase to all of the city’s parking meters. If adopted with the budget later this month, beach parking lots would be $2.50 per hour, while downtown meters would be $1.50 per hour.
Together, the increase would generate an additional $287,000 in revenue.
Downtown meters were last increased in 2014, while the beach meters last saw a bump in 2017.
Council will consider an ordinance to amend city code for the meter increases during a special meeting at 5 p.m., Monday, March 21.
Building permits could increase too
Another revenue-generating measure city council agreed to March 11 was a change to the way building permit fees are assessed.
If adopted with the budget, the fees for building permits would be 1.25 percent of the actual construction cost of new construction or a renovation project. However, the fee cannot be less than the cost computed by the International Code Council’s square foot construction valuation standard. City Finance Officer Ellen Lorraine McCabe estimates the new approach would generate an additional $210,000.
Council will consider amending the fee schedule for the changes at its March 21 special meeting.
Take-home police cars
At its March 11 meeting, mayor and city council voted 4-0 to send a letter of intent for the purchase of three additional police cars. The end goal is to implement a take-home car program for the police department, which would be available to all officers with a ranking of patrolman first class or above.
The letter of intent gets the process moving, as it will take about 32 weeks for the vehicles to be delivered. The letter does not commit the city to purchase the vehicles. Council will make that final decision when adopting the budget later this month.
In total, the fiscal year 2023 budget includes the purchase of five police vehicles – two ordered last year and three more this year – at a cost of $65,000 per car.
One of these five vehicles would replace an older vehicle, while the others are additions to the fleet. McCabe said the most significant cost of a take-home program is purchasing the vehicles, followed by vehicle operating and maintenance costs.
Police Chief Tom Spell said take-home cars will help with recruitment and retention of officers.