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Politics & Government

Rehoboth Beach commissioners look to the future with streetscape concepts

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Rehoboth Beach commissioners were presented initial concepts on two new street redesign projects.

The streets of Rehoboth have seen major renovations over the years, the most notable being the complete redesign of Rehoboth Avenue finished in 2006.

On Tuesday, commissioners looked at the initial concepts for the two streets right off Rehoboth Avenue, Wilmington and Baltimore Avenues.

Commissioners also got the first signs of how much this project will cost, upwards of $27 million — not including the cost to obtain new rights of way or put city utilities underground.

“I’ll be the first maybe to say, 'yeow!' That cost is a little higher than I had hoped for,” Mayor Stan Mills said. “And the loss of parking is certainly something to raise eyebrows over.”

But Mills also remembers sticker shock when the city was redesigning Rehoboth Avenue, and notes that project ended very successfully.

Commissioner Susan Gay reminds her colleauges the cost to redesign Rehoboth Avenue was over $30 million back in the 2000’s.

Parking was raised as an issue, with the current designs removing around 80 parking spots between the two streets.

Rehoboth Beach resident Rick Perry says a compromise needs to be found between parking and space for pedestrians.

“We need to look to the future and think about the possibility that outdoor dining may be something that would become permanent here — much the same as it is in other communities here in the U.S. but certainly in Europe; particularly given what we’ve been through with the pandemic,” Perry said.

Mills adds removing parking spaces will open up city sidewalks, something that’s worked well on Rehoboth Avenue to accommodate a growing number of summer visitors.

The task force responsible for Wilmington and Baltimore Avenues will meet over the next couple months to examine the cost to put utilities underground, and consider the two options. Mills says discussions around budgeting the funds for this will also begin.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.