Lewes merchants oppose Second Street closure

Council, chamber consider alternate ways to help downtown businesses
June 1, 2020

Downtown Lewes business owners at a Lewes Chamber of Commerce meeting last week shot down a proposal to close Second Street to allow more outdoor seating and dining. 

The proposal went before Lewes Mayor and City Council earlier this month, but was tabled until officials received feedback from the business community. 

Betsy Reamer, executive director of the Lewes chamber, said a contingent of restaurateurs determined it wasn’t the right time.

“They have safety and health concerns as well as the negative impact to the quality of the food,” she said. “It would be logistically challenging, especially since many of the restaurants and now retail businesses are offering curbside service.”

Those who participated in the discussion said closing the street for special dining events could be a great idea in the future. 

Not all restaurants were represented at the meeting, Reamer said, but all were invited.

Lewes council did not address the Second Street proposal at its May 26 meeting. Downtown parking meters were discussed. Meters at the beach parking lots went into effect May 23, but downtown meters remain off. They typically go online May 1, but are still off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Council is considering a proposal to designate certain parking spaces as 15- or 30-minute free spaces while restrictions encourage curbside pickup and limited in-person shopping and dining. Phase 1 of reopening goes into effect June 1, with 30 percent capacity at restaurants and retail stores. Meters at other spaces would be turned on to prevent people from parking downtown for long periods of time. The plan could be finalized during council’s virtual meeting at 1 p.m., Friday, May 29. 

To boost the downtown Lewes economy, the chamber has partnered with American Legion Post 17 to create a Hospitality Ambassador program. Ambassadors will safely greet visitors and answer any questions they may have regarding shopping, eating or visiting downtown Lewes. 

“Studies show that happy visitors share their enthusiasm with friends, family and many times on social media,” Reamer wrote in a letter to city council. “They are also much more likely to return and achieve the positive economic impact that our businesses desperately need.”

American Legion Auxiliary members have offered to coordinate and serve as Hospitality Ambassadors. Under the able leadership of President Murt Foos, they will receive advanced training so they will be prepared to answer questions. Many of the post’s auxiliary members performed this function at the Veteran’s Moving Wall last spring.


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