A task force created to examine the need for a parking garage in downtown Rehoboth has gotten the go-ahead from city commissioners to begin the request for qualifications and request for bid process.
During a meeting June 10, Commissioner Steve Scheffer, representing the task force, said the RFP and RFQ process would be an information gathering exercise for the city. It’s a way for Rehoboth to get insight on the situation from the people who are in the business, he said.
The commissioner discussion related to moving forward didn’t last long, but it did last long enough for Commissioners Toni Sharp and Stan Mills to voice some consternation.
Sharp said she was concerned with the inability for commissioners to move forward with the majority of parking change recommendations made by the parking committee last year.
Mayor Paul Kuhns assured Sharp city commissioners would continue to evaluate and implement those changes.
Commissioner Stan Mills said the process for forming the task force continues to be an issue with him. He said instead of a public process seeking volunteers, the task force was created with lighting speed, in private and without public input.
Commissioners and the public are in need of an apology, said Mills.
The request from the task force came after it held its second meeting June 7, during which there was unanimous agreement with getting commissioner buy-in before moving forward.
During the task force meeting, City Manager Sharon Lynn said she had reviewed a parking study done nearly 10 years ago, and while it is outdated in terms of costs, not much has changed in terms of need.
Lynn was asked if the city knew how many parking metered and parking pass spaces were in town. She said there were about 2,200 total metered spaces. As for parking pass spaces, Lynn said the number was not known at the time, but the staff was working on it.
Task force member Linda Kauffman, who also has decades of experience in the parking industry, didn’t think potential contractors would do a parking study because, she said, they know there’s money to be made.
“There’s interest already,” she said, adding that she’s been contacted by more than just Colonial Parking, whose unsolicited presentation to the city in February regarding a 300-space garage sparked the creation of the task force.
Multiple task force members continue to question if there’s a need for a parking garage because of the 100-spot lot next to city hall.
Kauffman said there’s a difference between a need and the perception of a need. The city can get all the information it wants, but people outside of town don’t want to drive into town because they don’t think there’s enough parking close to where they want to be, she said.
Task force member Rick Perry, who also sits on the planning commission, suggested exploring other areas, such as the Deauville Beach parking lot, because then there wouldn’t be a multi-year construction project going on downtown.
Before the meeting adjourned, and after listening to the task force discussion, Kauffman listed items an RFP should consider, which include city infrastructure under the parking lot, use of the land, long- and short-term maintenance costs, the creation of an aesthetically pleasing facility and operational goals of the company.
At the conclusion of the task force meeting, it was decided that Lynn, Kauffman and Scheffer would develop rough drafts of the RFP and RFQ before the next meeting, so they can be discussed.
As of press deadline June 17, a future meeting hasn’t been posted, but during the task force meeting, one was tentatively scheduled for Friday, July 12.