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DNREC to take over operations at Deauville Beach from City of Rehoboth Beach

Quinn Kirkpatrick
Delaware Public Media

DNREC will take over the day-to-day management of Deauville Beach from the city of Rehoboth Beach this summer.

Rehoboth Beach has leased Deauville Beach from the state since 1975. The most recent agreement, a 10-year contract expiring June 2023, was next to no cost to the city – a $2,500 administrative fee due at the beginning of the lease, with an annual fee of $1.

DNREC Parks Manager Ray Bivens calls that a “unicorn deal."

“That was a one-off kind of agreement for us," Bivens says. "There is nowhere else in the state that we are giving to a municipality ocean-front land to operate and make the profits off of.”

Bivens says DNREC and Rehoboth began negotiations for a new agreement last spring – DNREC originally proposed a 15 percent share of parking revenue, then renegotiated down to 10 percent, which would come out to around $12,000 annually, but they were still unable to come to an agreement with the city.

Bivens adds that DNREC also offered up to a $15,000 credit for the first year to give the city time to fit the new agreement into the yearly budget.

"We were kind of surprised when we read the issue about the fees because we thought we had tried to be very reasonable and open and transparent in our communications," Bivens says.

Bivens says the city didn’t want to pay any fees, claiming it already loses money operating and maintaining the beach.

“Our goal was, and we thought that, Rehoboth would be operating this," Bivens says. "They’re close, they’ve done it for a long time. We were down to just a few words in an agreement, we thought we were just about done. But I guess City Council had a different idea, they felt like they were losing money operating the site so they were not interested in any kind of agreement that involved them sending any portion of the proceeds from the site to the state.”

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Division of Parks and Recreation

The city says in a statement they are disappointed to not reach a new lease agreement, but agrees it is in the best interest of all for DNREC to take over operations.

"We are grateful to the state and DNREC for entrusting the City of Rehoboth Beach for so long with care for and management of this 600-yard section of our state’s coastal treasure," the city's statement says. "We’re committed to providing a smooth transition and are confident that the Division of Parks and Recreation will continue to provide great outdoor recreation services at Deauville Beach.

Bivens says Deauville will now be part of the Cape Henlopen State Park management unit, but notes that not much will change in terms of functionality other than parking, which will be pay-to-park for everyone. Previously, anyone with a Rehoboth Beach parking pass could park at Deauville Beach for free. A daily entrance fee will be in effect between March 1 and Nov. 30 annually. The division is currently assessing and reviewing the fee structure.

Delaware State Beach Patrol will provide lifeguard service from Saturday, May 25 through Monday, Sept. 2.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.