There appears to be some misunderstanding about the temporary parking arrangements that went into effect on June 1 in Bethany Beach. Therefore, it might be helpful to review some of the facts, including the fact that there is parking available for visitors and we welcome them.
First, the current arrangements were approved by the Town Council on May 15 in a plan to implement Gov. Carney’s May 14 order reopening Delaware beaches; and to balance the interests of our property owners, business community and visitors.
In his order (the 17th Modification of the State of Emergency), the governor provided, among other things, that beachgoers must maintain social (physical) distancing of at least 6 feet from any person outside their household when on boardwalks or beaches. In order to ensure the requisite distancing, the governor recommended that beach towns implement measures to limit crowding, to include limiting the number of available parking spaces.
The overall purpose of the order, as with previous emergency modifications, is “to control and prevent the spread of COVID-19…” That is likewise the paramount purpose of the Town Council, to protect the health and safety of everyone in Town: residents and all property owners, business owners and their employees, visitors and last, but not least, our Town staff.
That brings us to the allocation of the finite number of parking spaces in Town. Under the interim plan approved by the Council on May 15, there will be, approximately:
• 100 2-hour pay-to-park spaces on Garfield Parkway in downtown Bethany Beach available to everyone;
• 70 free 15-minute spaces near the restaurants on Garfield Parkway, Atlantic and Pennsylvania Avenues available to everyone to facilitate pickup of take-out orders;
• 260 long-term pay-to-park spaces along the length of Pennsylvania Avenue available to everyone;
• 30 long-term pay-to-park spaces in the Town parking lot next to the Blue Crab restaurant on Garfield Parkway available to everyone; and
• 20 long-term pay-to-park spaces in the PNC parking lot (after bank hours) on Garfield Parkway available to everyone.
• 400 spaces on Atlantic Avenue and beachfront parking lots are designated as residential permit spaces for owners and renters of the Town’s approximately 2,800 properties. These are spaces that can be most quickly converted to pay-to-park or closed, depending on crowds and compliance with the physical distancing conditions on the beach.
The Town Council also waived the payment of fees for business parking permits that businesses can obtain for their employees.
The Town staff will monitor beach conditions on a regular basis. Right now, because of storms, strong northeast winds and high tides, the beach is narrower than it has been in recent memory. In different locations, the already narrow width can fluctuate between 120 feet at low tide to 40 feet at high tide. This does not leave much room for people to sit and makes managing crowding on the beach extremely problematic.
We recognize that, like other decisions, not everyone will be happy with the arrangements described. Individual interests and preferences will vary. Hopefully, others will be happy that the beach and boardwalk are open again, that there will be some parking available for everyone, and that we’re gradually moving toward a wider reopening of businesses and the economy. Whatever the opinions might be, I hope that the information provided will help clear up any misunderstanding about the Town Council’s decision in this matter.
Return to “normal” can’t come soon enough for all of us. In the meantime, the Bethany Beach Town Council and staff very much appreciate public understanding, patience and cooperation. Together we will get through this difficult time as a community of neighbors.
Rosemary Hardiman, Vice Mayor