Looking to improve traffic flow, increase parking and maximize open space, Rehoboth Beach is considering a redesign of the streetscape around Lake Gerar and the north end of the Boardwalk.
During a commissioner workshop Dec. 9, City Manager Sharon Lynn said a number of city committees had been working on ways to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety, and address accommodation needs.
Mike Wigley of Davis Bowen & Friedel Inc., who helped design the new city hall, presented commissioners the proposed plan. Emphasizing it was the initial concept plan and it would evolve over time, Wigley said the playground equipment in the park area north of the lake needs to be replaced, and there’s long been talk about adding some kind of family restroom facility. There are also ways to improve parking, he said.
As proposed, the plan for Lake Gerar Park calls for moving the playground west to make room for bathrooms and changing stations, a dog park between the lake and Grenoble Place, a splash fountain and a small amphitheater-like space in the northwest portion of the park that slopes toward the lake.
The most dramatic change is the addition of a traffic circle at the intersection of Lake Avenue, Lakeview Street and Surfside Place, and the removal of Mariners Park, the triangular open space immediately north of Henlopen Hotel, in favor of a more user-friendly parking lot. Wigley said a traffic circle acts as a traffic-calming measure and gives the area more presence. As proposed, he said, the redesign of the Mariners Park area would add 10 parking spaces.
Other proposed changes include landscaping, perpendicular parking on Grenoble Place and extending the Boardwalk to provide a better turnaround for pedestrians and bikers. Now, Wigley said, the Boardwalk ends abruptly and unceremoniously.
Patricia Davis, a member of the Henlopen Condominium Council, said she applauded some of the changes, but thought the paving of Mariners Park was a radical plan. Understanding the presentation was the initial introduction, Davis said she and the other condo owners would be willing to work with the city through the process.
Project costs were not discussed, and commissioner comments on the proposal were limited.
Commissioner Lisa Schlosser questioned if Lake Gerar even needed a playground at all. Lynn said it’s always good to have those types of amenities.
Commissioner Ed Chrzanowski said he would like the existing walkways around the park to be a part of the improvement plan, because they often flooded and became impassable.
In the end, Lynn said there would be more discussion on the project and the steps moving forward during the upcoming budgeting process. She said there will be a public outreach plan, and she expected to have funding set aside for actual design plans in the next fiscal year.
Wigley said he expected the creation of a working group to fine-tune the design over the next year.