Having lived outside downtown Rehoboth since 1999, penned three books about Rehoboth, and spent more than a decade working for tourism and economic development with Rehoboth Beach Main Street, it’s safe to say I love Rehoboth Beach. It’s been my hometown, my career and my passion.
Which is why I must write this letter.
When I learned of the arrests and humiliation of downtown business owners relative to the patio ordinance, I was saddened but not shocked. For ten years I watched City management and governance fail to appreciate the importance of a thriving tourism and small business community for the well-being of Rehoboth’s future. While doing a good job managing City services and assets like streetscape, boardwalk and lakes, there was little concern for keeping Rehoboth competitive in tourism and business retention.
A thriving resort can co-exist with residential neighborhoods if both sides understand the stakes and compromise. However, in this case, the curfew on patio music and service is unduly harsh to business and threatens Rehoboth’s tourism revenue. It’s rational to expect a restaurant to serve outdoors until 11 p.m. with patrons enjoying food, beverages and music at reasonable noise levels. A 10 p.m. curfew, with no music permitted is anti-business, anti-tourist, and short-sighted.
No one wants Rehoboth to be Ocean City or Dewey. But everyone should insist it be competitive with Lewes, Bethany and Cape May. Other small, beautiful resort towns, such as Camden or Ogunquit, Maine, or Lunenburg, Nova Scotia stay quaint and calm while bending over backward to welcome tourists. Rehoboth, on the other hand, does everything it can to repel them—from making people carry bags of quarters and interrupt dinners to feed meters, to discouraging visitors with pets, and now, using personal agendas to shut down outdoor dining—one of the key reasons patrons choose resort restaurants.
Some commissioners want to quiet businesses that were already thriving in their neighborhoods when they bought property there—despite it hurting the businesses and town. That’s bad for Rehoboth’s future.
I owned a condo three doors from the boardwalk. It was noisy until midnight. I knew it would be when I bought the place, but wanted to be walking distance to all the business district had to offer. A simple white noise machine kept me from hearing the noise, by the way.
Residents and commissioners cannot have it both ways. They cannot have a thriving town, good revenue, great restaurants, wonderful shops and a vibrant resort without allowing the businesses to attract customers and keep them coming back. Residents and commissioners must compromise on this patio issue (which is really a pitch for a new, harsher noise ordinance) if they want Rehoboth to keep a welcoming reputation and its economic health.
I urge the City and its homeowners to do the right thing and permit patio use until 11 p.m., along with music and the ambiance required. It’s for your own good.
Thank you all very much for the use of your community room, and for the wedding card!
Our special day wouldn’t have been so amazing without all of your support and help.
Shannon and Crystal
Editor’s note: Shannon and Crystal recently had their commitment ceremony on the beach, and the wedding party continued their celebration at CAMP Rehoboth. For information on the use of our facility, call us at 302-227-5620.
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