Rehoboth to review use of commercial-district barriers

Action taken in May to promote social distancing, pedestrian safety
September 8, 2020

Story Location:
Rehoboth Beach City Hall
229 Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach  Delaware  19971
United States

With two weeks to go before Rehoboth Beach’s new administration is sworn into office Friday, Sept. 18, the to-do list continues to grow.

In addition to getting up to speed on general municipal governance, there was already a full plate for Mayor-elect Stan Mills and Commissioners-elect Jay Lagree and Patrick Gossett – an appeal of the planning commission’s decision to approve the new Clear Space Theatre Company site plan for a facility on Rehoboth Avenue; questions about planning commission member Mark Hunker’s eligibility to serve; and whether the city-owned property at 84 Kent St. should be put on the market. The sale of the property is in the revenue portion of this year’s budget for $800,000.

The new officials, along with the four sitting commissioners, will now have to decide what to do about the barriers that have been blocking commercial-district parking spots since May. The barriers were installed to keep pedestrians safe from cars, while allowing social distancing in front of restaurants using sidewalk space for outdoor dining.

Initially, the city installed hundreds of red barriers to block parking spots along the first two blocks of Rehoboth Avenue. The layout was changed weeks later after non-restaurant business owners complained the barriers were hurting business.

On Wilmington and Baltimore avenues, barriers were put up at specific locations based on the needs of restaurants approved for seating expansion.

During a special commissioner meeting Sept. 1, City Manager Sharon Lynn said she and city staff are discussing a plan. For the time being, the status quo holds, but any changes will be for the new administration to decide on, she said.

Lynn said the city is still renting 100 of the 300 barriers initially installed; the city also purchased 50 barriers.

Also during the meeting, city Code Enforcement Officer Dennis Jeney said there have been 48 applications submitted to the city for expansion of premises, with 38 of the 44 approved serving alcohol.

In an email Sept. 2, Mills said there will be a discussion on pandemic strategies going forward on the day of the swearing-in. He said he expects Lynn to have recommendations and to bring them to the commissioners for consideration.

“The safety of our visitors, property owners, businesses, and city employees will remain a priority, along with the city promoting a good environment to help businesses prosper in the era of the pandemic,” said Mills.

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