Rehoboth commissioners create parks and recreation code

As grand opening nears, commercial use of new canal dock on hold until rules are codified
May 7, 2021

Story Location:
Grove Park Canal Dock
511 Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

Rehoboth Beach commissioners recently approved code creating a parks and recreation section regulating use of the city’s parks, including the new canal dock at Grove Park. However, not all the rules are set, which means when the dock opens in early May, it won’t be available for commercial use.

It took a decade, but the new dock was completed in January. In anticipation of its opening, city staff introduced the new section of code in February. Commissioners discussed the section over a few meetings, approving it during their April 16 meeting.

Nearly a quarter of funding for the $1.25 million project came in the form of a $300,000 Transportation Alternatives Program grant from the Delaware Department of Transportation.

Commissioner Patrick Gossett broached the subject of businesses using the dock for commercial purposes after it was brought to the attention of commissioners that Lewes-based Cape Water Tours and Taxi was already advertising rides on the canal.

Gosset said there are no business license fees, rules related to hours of operation or contracts discussed in the new section. He said he didn’t want the same ask-for-forgiveness situation to happen with the dock that recently happened with the Rehoboth Beach Farmers Market. City code allowed a maximum of 25 vendors at the market, but that number had been exceeded for years. In March, commissioners increased the allowable number of vendors to 38.

David Green, owner of Cape Water Tours and Taxi, participated in the meeting and apologized for the confusion. He said the reason he had started advertising rides on the canal was related to behind-the-scenes issues with the website. He said it took a while for his website manager to incorporate new services, and the stop at the canal dock in Rehoboth had been added to the website in anticipation of it being open.

Green said he understood the rules and regulations were a work in progress and that it wouldn’t be immediately available for commercial use. However, he said, he was still excited about the opportunity in the future.

Ultimately, commissioners accepted Gossett's line of thinking and decided to move forward with the ribbon cutting, while also delaying commercial use until rules were established.

Commissioner Susan Gay suggested inserting those rules into a different section of code, one related to businesses license fees. She said a definition of water taxi, and a corresponding license fee, could be inserted near the section of code related to business license fees for a regular taxi service.

General parks and recreation rules

Most of the discussion during the April 16 meeting was related to using the canal dock, but the rules do apply to all the city’s parks.

As noted in the approved rules, gambling, alcohol, amplified music, hunting, fires and sleeping are not allowed in any park, at any time; hours of use are sunrise to sunset; climbing on structures is prohibited, except on playgrounds; no wheeled modes of transportation – bikes, skateboards, etc. – are allowed on tennis and basketball courts or the dock; and the temporary construction of anything is not allowed unless there’s an agreement with the city.

A $100 civil violation was set as the fine for violating the rules. The city manager is allowed to approve exceptions to all the rules. The Rehoboth Beach Farmers Market has already been given exception approval.

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