Letter: There are solutions to Clear Space goal

March 15, 2019

Just for the record, while I support Clear Space remaining in the City of Rehoboth, I did not agree to the proposal at the March 8 meeting as stated in the Cape Gazette article “Clear Space, neighbors reach a truce on new theater.”  The article claimed “during a planning commission meeting March 8, Sussex Street residents Mark Betchkal and Ron Bowman, neighbors abutting the property to the north on Sussex Street, agreed they would support the project if Clear Space removed the 28-space parking garage and reduced the number of seats.”   

I did speak at that meeting to voice many concerns and recommendations but unfortunately, those statements were not included in the article. What I did express at the meeting was my concern over three or four performances being held every Saturday in the summer, and the impact that will have on traffic at the circle on Rehoboth Avenue.  

Last year, there were performances on most Saturdays at 11 a.m., 2, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Can you imagine the impact on traffic that will have on Rehoboth Avenue on a Saturday in the summer?  

I also voiced my concern over the safety of 300 people entering and exiting the theater with cars driving over a sidewalk to get to and from the garage. I voiced my concern over the large scale of this proposed theater for our small town.  Based on the city code, a building with 28 parking spaces as Clear Space has designed can be no larger than 5,500 square feet.  If Clear Space were to be reclassified as an “institution” under city code, their building could only be 11,000 square feet.  The proposed Clear Space building is 25,600 square feet It is a massive structure and not even close to meeting code.  

I voiced my recommendation that the building be reduced in size by 20 percent or more to lessen the negative impact on size, safety, parking and traffic.  I voiced my recommendation that maybe the land available two blocks west on the other side of the bridge on Rehoboth Avenue may be a more suitable site for Clear Space’s project, as the parcel in question has almost twice the land, is $400,000 less expensive, and has parking access from both Rehoboth Avenue and Church Street.  The added benefits for that location include there are no meters, no required parking permits, and there is plenty of space for a theater with 300 seats and a large garage or parking lot.  

As you can see, there are many options to solve the Clear Space parking problem. Unfortunately, the suggestions I made didn’t make it into the article referenced above, so I felt the need to set the record straight.  I think we all can agree that we would like to see Clear Space remain in the city.  The question is where is the best location with the least amount of negative impact on the city?  I am hopeful that the citizens of Rehoboth will start talking about these concerns and recommendations now, so we all can unite together to build a state-of-the-art theater that Clear Space, our elected officials, and the citizens of Rehoboth can look at with pride.

Ron Bowman
Rehoboth Beach


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