Less than a week after parking meters were turned off in Rehoboth Beach, business owners were complaining about changes instituted this past summer. A significant majority of the complaints were about the three-hour limit on parking in the downtown commercial district.
Amanda Kane, owner of Salt + Stone on Wilmington Avenue, called the three-hour time limit ridiculous.
Pond owner Pete Borsari said if the intention of city commissioners was to promote business by instituting the changes, it didn’t work. He said the time limitation didn’t allow for people to do more than one thing while in town, and if they had to move their car, they were taking it out onto the highway.
“It was a big mistake,” said Borsari of the three-hour time limit. “What it did this summer was hurt us a lot.”
Nick Caggiano, owner of Nicola Pizza, was among the loudest complainers. He said Rehoboth is a beach town, and people want to use the beach and then go do something. Restricting the number of hours people can park hurts the businesses, he said. “The three-hour time limit isn’t for the businesses,” he said. “It’s for the city to keep things beautiful.”
The Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Downtown Advisory Task Force hosted the special meeting Sept. 19 at the Bellmoor Inn.
Carol Everhart, chamber executive director, said the three-hour time limit was the biggest complaint they received all summer. Visitors are OK with the hourly rate, she said; it’s being required to move after three hours are up that the chamber heard the most complaints about. “We didn’t get one complaint about the price,” said Everhart.
Rehoboth commissioners approved a number of changes to the city’s parking system earlier this year. Changes include an increase in commercial district parking meters from $2 an hour to $3 an hour; enforcement of a 3-hour time limit in certain areas; an increase in season length for parking passes; and a reduction of parking spaces dedicated specifically for the post office.
Linda Kauffman was on hand representing the city’s Parking Advisory Committee, which she chairs. She said the committee recommended 18 changes to city commissioners, of which, she said, they only approved a handful.
The city has been slow in adopting the changes, she said.
The three-hour time limit wasn’t the only complaint.
One Baltimore Avenue business owner complained the city didn’t do a good job with signage related to kiosks. She said the city kept the old parking meter poles, didn’t install the old meters, but also didn’t put up signage directing parkers to the kiosks.
Better technology was also recommended. Multiple people complained there was a lag time of a few minutes between paying for ParkMobile and when registered in the system. This resulted in people getting parking tickets for time they had paid for.
One business owner said the problem with the change in the parking pass season was the bus services into town were decreased after Labor Day, which meant employees were having trouble parking outside of town and then getting in.
Kauffman said she was going to take suggestions from the meeting and bring them up at a Parking Advisory Committee meeting Thursday, Sept. 26. She also recommended the business owners come to the meeting, which begins at 9 a.m.