Last year, Rehoboth commissioners twice denied use of the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center to a group of greyhound enthusiasts who wanted to use the facility as its indoor location for a 4-day event.
After the second denial, in September, Commissioner Lisa Schlosser vowed to bring the issue back, and she did just that during a commissioners’ workshop Feb. 4.
Gail Rys, Greyhound Pet Adoptions of Delaware president, spoke on behalf of the Greyhounds Reach the Beach event, which has been in existence for 24 years. She said over that time, the event has moved through multiple locations, and while the group has made do, the convention center would be the ideal location because it provides enough indoor space for everything the group wants to do.
These dogs are used to being inside and are very good at being clean in public places, said Rys. Accidents do happen, but there is a group of volunteers ready to clean up those accidents immediately, she said.
As part of her presentation, Rys gave the commissioners a packet of testimonials from other venues where greyhound owners gather for events, including wineries with hardwood floors and carpets.
Rys asked the commissioners to give the event a chance on a trial basis. She estimated the event brings up to half a million dollars in revenue to local hotels, restaurants and other businesses.
The biggest difference between last year’s denials and now is the makeup of the commissioners.
Mayor Paul Kuhns, commissioners Stan Mills and Toni Sharp, and former Commissioner Patrick Gossett were the majority of commissioners against the idea. The three in favor were Schlosser, former commissioner and now state auditor Kathy McGuiness and former Commissioner Jay Lagree.
Sitting on the board now are commissioners Pat Coluzzi, Richard Byrne and Steve Scheffer, who replaced McGuiness.
During the recent meeting, Coluzzi said she thinks allowing the event is a reasonable idea.
Byrne was absent at the recent meeting, but voiced his support as commissioner-elect in September, so long as the organization agrees to a number of sanitary requirements.
Scheffer said he liked the idea of a trial year, especially if the dogs behave as well as the testimonials say because that can be the standard other groups are held to in the future.
At the end of the discussion, Kuhns agreed to put a vote on potentially allowing the event on the agenda for the commissioners’ meeting Friday, Feb. 15.