For the past two summers, in an effort to promote continued support for downtown Rehoboth Beach businesses during COVID restrictions, Rehoboth Beach officials instituted two programs – Meterless Mondays and reserved to-go spots for restaurants providing takeout. It appears both of those programs will not be returning for the 2022 summer.
During a commissioner workshop Jan. 10, as part of a discussion on potential parking changes for the coming summer, there was general consensus among the group that both programs had run their course. Ultimately, the commissioners didn’t take a formal vote to end the programs, but rather agreed not bring them back unless there was a need.
Commissioner Susan Gay said while she was definitely in favor of the program when it was initiated, she has mixed feelings about it moving forward.
“It was a great thing to do when we were trying to get people back into town, but it was very much a mixed back last summer and probably not needed,” said Gay. “I just don’t know if it’s necessary on an ongoing basis.”
The sunsetting of two programs comes after a summer when the city saw approximately $200,000 more parking revenue than budgeted. During a presentation in October, Projects Coordinator Evan Miller said the city budgeted for approximately $5.57 million in parking-related revenue this season, but brought in closer to $5.78 million – $4.64 million from meters and $1.11 million in permits.
At the time, Miller estimated the city lost $125,000 in revenue from Meterless Monday and, assuming 100 percent occupancy, a maximum of about $345,000 from to-go spots and the jersey barriers creating pedestrian walkways in certain areas of the commercial district.
Mayor Stan Mills said he enjoyed getting takeout from restaurants, but he didn’t like to see businesses that had reserved parking spots stop doing takeout after 5 p.m. That’s not fair to others, he said.
The day after the commissioner decision, Jan. 11, Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carol Everhart said she hadn’t heard from any businesses about the change. During the summer months, it was a mixed response, she said.
“Some businesses thought it helped, while others weren’t as convinced,” said Everhart.
It’s a good thing the commissioners didn’t outright say the program wasn’t ever coming back, said Everhart. If there’s a need to bring the programs back, they seemed to be amenable to that, she said.