Public transportation and lodging taxes
This is two editorials for the price of one, with connections because of our all-important tourism industry.
Last weekend, Rehoboth Beach hosted the Sea Witch Festival, its largest single event of the year. No one kept it a secret. Everyone knew parking would be an issue. With crowds approaching 100,000 jamming into town for the Halloween parade, and limited parking anyway, how could parking not be an issue?
With meters off for the season, dozens of people brought placeholder cars into town as early as the Wednesday before the festival to guarantee a great parking spot to tailgate and watch the parade. Parking spaces taken up for days by peopleless cars? Angry business owners on the Avenue? You bet.
Was there ever a better opportunity for the state’s park and ride system to come to the rescue and shine? And did it? Not according to people who stood in interminable lines at the Rehoboth Beach Park and Ride and Lewes Transit Center with restless children and eyes straining to see buses on the horizon, or wondering why other empty buses on the lots weren’t brought into action.
One upset father, who eventually abandoned plans to ride the bus into Rehoboth and instead took a chance on finding parking, called the scene at the transit center “incompetence at its finest.”
With our towns running out of space for more cars, we have to get public transportation right. Planning should start now to rectify this situation for the 2020 event.
The second observation is about lodging taxes enacted recently in Rehoboth Beach, and being considered by Lewes and in Sussex County for hotel, motel, and bed and breakfast rooms.
Lodging tax revenues are directly related to tourism. Entities enacting them should guarantee, confirmed by annual written reports, that the revenues generated are going solely to initiatives specifically designed to sustain and improve the coastal infrastructure that makes us such an attractive tourist destination. Clean beaches and water must be at the top of the list. They are what make us.
Without clean beaches and clean water, we won’t have to worry about traffic congestion and parking.