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To protect Rehoboth’s future, preserve its past

July 30, 2020

Based on what I’ve heard in recent candidate forums and what I’ve read in recent letters to this newspaper, I am very concerned about statements Mayor Kuhns and his running mates Hugh Fuller and Rachel Macha have repeatedly made that trivialize the importance of the contributions made by prior administrations to preserve the character and ambiance of our small resort community.

Although they pay lip service to the “small-town charm” of the city, they promise to put the past behind them and instead focus on the city’s future.

What future? Do they not recognize that the city’s economic future depends on preserving its past, and not on their plans for “economic development,” which include urbanizing the city’s downtown with multiple new hotels and a new public parking garage with hundreds of spaces; a Disneyesque amusement park adjacent to Lake Gerar; a sightseeing bus featuring loudspeaker tours and regular runs through our residential neighborhoods from early morning to late at night; and other commercial projects too numerous to list in this letter?

Candidates Kuhns, Fuller and Macha obviously do not understand that what has attracted generations of visitors to Rehoboth, whose spending is essential to support city services and infrastructure, are memories of their past vacation experiences in our small town.

Six generations of my wife’s family have been coming to Rehoboth since the 1920s. She and I have been renters and second homeowners for over 40 years. Our three adult sons and now their children have all looked forward to their summer vacation time on the Boardwalk and beach since they were toddlers.

Their memories include Funland with its fire engine and airplane rides when they were little kids, bumper cars, the Haunted Mansion, and paratrooper as they got older, and ultimately braving the Gravitron and Sea Dragon as teenagers; spending their allowance in the arcades and on the miniature golf course; indulging in pizzas, french fries, funnel cakes, ice cream sundaes, frozen yogurt and candy treats either unavailable or not allowed at home; playing night paddle and volleyball on the beach; learning to “duck” the ocean’s waves; playing board games and doing puzzles on rainy days; and otherwise enjoying Rehoboth’s endless opportunities for family togetherness in our busy lives. 

These memories are not just nostalgia on my part. They are what constitutes Rehoboth’s “brand,” what keeps visitors who share memories like ours as well as new visitors coming back to our existing hotels, B&Bs and rental homes, our restaurants and our shops, all of which are critical elements of our “small town charm.” Candidates Kuhn, Fuller and Macha claim that they don’t want Rehoboth to become another Ocean City, but their plans for the future will certainly move us closer to that reality.

This is why I’m voting for their opponents, Stan Mills, Patrick Gossett and Jay Lagree. Their vision of the future recognizes that preserving the city’s past is critical to ensuring its continuing economic stability both during and after the current pandemic.

John Metz
Rehoboth Beach
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