Rehoboth begins to make rules for new canal dock

For now, commissioners hesitant to implement plastic straw ban on restaurants
February 26, 2021

Story Location:
Grove Park Canal Dock
511 Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

A decade’s worth of planning and construction for the Grove Park Canal Dock in Rehoboth Beach was completed in January. Now, city commissioners have begun the process of creating rules for how the new amenity will operate.

During a commissioner workshop Feb. 8, City Manager Sharon Lynn said rules and regulations need to be created. Hours of operation and safety concerns need to be addressed, she said.

City Arborist Liz Lingo, who oversees management of the city’s parks, presented commissioners with a draft of the rules. The city thinks this does a pretty good job of laying things out for the dock, she said.

As proposed, the dock provides two boat slips that will only be used for loading and unloading passengers, with a 30-minute maximum docking time. Any watercraft, defined as a boat or any other vessel that travels on water, left longer than 30 minutes may be confiscated by the city. No watercraft or personal belongings may be left overnight; any such item may be confiscated by the city. Any damage, accidental or intentional, to the dock, city structure, ramp, or landscaping shall be repaired or replaced at the damaging party’s expense. Fishing would be permitted only from the designated fishing portion of the dock ramp.

Police Chief Keith Banks said it would be easy enough for staff to lock the entrance to the ramp daily. It would be like the Deauville Beach parking lot, he said. It’s not any extra burden, it’s just another assignment.

While there were no decisions made, there was also a discussion about fees for dock use. Those need to be established before the dock is put into use, said Commissioner Susan Gay.

Commissioners are expected to resume discussion on the rules in March.

Creation of parks and recreation code

The rules for using the canal dock are being considered as part of a larger discussion on the creation of a section of city code related to parks and recreation.

The commissioners didn’t discuss the larger section of code at the workshop. However, at a commission meeting Feb. 19, Lingo said a consultant suggested that the city create a baseline set of rules and regulations so the city’s police department could enforce them.

There were some specific suggestions made on things to include within the code – for example, a list of all the city’s parks – but it was an item requiring a person older than 16 to obtain a no-cost fishing license from the city when fishing in the city that garnered the only real discussion.

Commissioner Jay Lagree said he thought people fishing already had to get a license from the state and then asked if the requirement was fixing a problem that didn’t exist. 

Lingo said she was fine with not having to process the license; it was included in the proposed code because it’s in the code now, she said.

Proposed plastic straw ban met with skepticism

During the Feb. 8 workshop, Commissioner Richard Byrne, who is also chairs the city’s environment committee, introduced the idea of banning plastic straws from restaurants and placing educational placards on tabletops. He said the committee had discussed the idea last year, pre-pandemic, but decided to hold off so as not to place further burden on the city’s restaurants.

At the time, the discussion was being held in parallel with the state’s decision to begin eliminating single-use plastic products, said Byrne, referencing the state’s recent ban on single-use plastic bags at large retail businesses. He said the proposal would require biodegradable straws.

“Plastic straws are among the largest contributors to marine toxic debris,” said Byrne.

Commissioners recognized the importance of the program, but were skeptical about the timing of introducing it.

Gay said she wasn’t sure now was the right time to burden the city’s restaurants with a mandate their competitors outside city limits wouldn’t have to deal with. It would require involvement at the state level to be effective, she said.

Commissioner Pat Coluzzi said one possibility could be the city funding tabletop placards educating diners on why plastic straws are bad for the environment.

Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce President Carol Everhart said there’s no one who doesn’t believe plastics are a problem worldwide. However, she continued, it would be wonderful if the commissioners moved forward on the initiative, but on a voluntary level.

Two new state historical markers

There was also a brief discussion on two new historical markers for the city – one at Poodle Beach and one at the Rehoboth Beach Patrol station.

Poodle Beach is located immediately south of the Boardwalk and has been a historic refuge for members of the LGBTQ community for over 70 years. The state approved this marker in December.

The Rehoboth Beach Patrol is celebrating 100 years of existence this year.

The commissioners formally supported the historical markers during their Feb. 19 meeting. The next step is for the state and the city to work on marker wording and final locations.

Mayor Stan Mills said a date for installation of the markers will be determined at a later time.

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