Rehoboth Beach officials are planning to use about 65 feet of the easternmost section of Baltimore Avenue in an upcoming project to build a new beach patrol headquarters and bathroom. A public hearing to legally abandon that portion of roadway for the project is set for Friday, Sept. 29.
Commissioners set the hearing during a special meeting Sept. 22. While commissioners generally understood a hearing is needed to meet city charter requirements, there was some confusion about the actual area of Baltimore Avenue under consideration.
City Solicitor Glenn Mandalas said the project would extend about 46-feet-4-inches into the eastern end of Baltimore Avenue. Commissioner Don Preston asked if 18-feet-6-inches should be added because there’s a landscaping area extending farther that will eliminate parking areas.
Mandalas agreed, which means the city is planning to take 64-feet-10-inches off Baltimore Avenue’s eastern edge.
Commissioners Patrick Gossett and Ed Chrzanowski asked that the city document the area being abandoned to clarify it in advance of the public hearing. Chrzanowski suggested a Google Earth image, while Gossett suggested the city use spray paint on the actual street.
Commissioner Toni Sharp supported efforts toward clarification. If the commissioners are having trouble, the public likely will too, she said.
Commissioner Tim Bennett asked if there will be any measurable impact to property owners.
City Manager Laurence Christian said the city has had a number of conversations with representatives of the neighboring hotels, and he thinks they’re fine.
Assistant City Manager Evan Miller confirmed the city had met with the hotel owners. He said the only concern is access to their properties, which remains in the plan.
Preston asked Mayor Stan Mills why, after years of discussing the project, the city is just now moving forward with the formal abandoning process.
It was an oversight that was pointed out to the city a couple of weeks ago, said Mills.
In an email prior to the meeting, Lynne Coan, city spokesperson, said this is the first time since 2009 the city will conduct a public hearing because of this specific section of the city charter. As part of the public hearing, the notice must be posted in five visible areas. Miller said the notice would be posted at the Deauville Beach tennis courts, Rehoboth Beach Patrol, the Bandstand, Poodle Beach, city hall, convention center and Grove Park. City Secretary Ann Womack suggested the Rehoboth Beach Public Library and the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company. Mills said the more, the better.
As for the beach patrol project timeline, Coan said the city has instructed the contractor to continue with fencing installation around the construction site, but the city will delay the start of demolition until the commissioners either accept or reject the resolution to abandon the specific portion of Baltimore Avenue. The city awarded a $4.9 million contract for a new beach patrol/restroom facility to Delmarva Veteran Builders during a meeting in August. As designed, the new facility will be two stories, with a new public restroom facility on the first floor and the beach patrol headquarters on the second floor.
The public hearing has been scheduled for 9 a.m., Friday, Sept. 29.