In response to the letter submitted by the vice-mayor of Bethany Beach, Rosemary Hardiman, I would like to offer the following.
In the past, in the evening the side streets in Bethany Beach were free to all after 4 p.m. (some of the side streets were 8 p.m.). I drove downtown recently and it appears that the stipulation to park on those side streets now is that one must have a resident or business permit. There is no logical reason for this change given that the beach crowd dissipates as the day progresses in late afternoon. The previous policy allowed families to park free-of-charge to shop and perhaps eat at one of the restaurants in the evening without having to pay for parking. There is no logical reason for this change and it serves to discourage families from making the trip into town. The mayor's closing statement in her letter that one can order by phone or online at one of the restuarants reflects a poor working knowledge of how restaurants work and serves to reveal her dismissive attitude towards the Bethany Beach downtown business community as well as residents of the surrounding communities.
USA Today recently had an article where it noted that while business is down 25 percent in Ocean City, Md., it is down anywhere from 40-75 percent in Bethany Beach, depending on the business establishment. This speaks volumes in that it refects real numbers and a real impact on the Bethany Beach business community. Although I obviously cannot say for certain that the lack of available parking in the day as well as free parking in the evening is the reason, it is probably safe to say it has had an impact.
One need only look at the recently constructed Bethany Beach “Park” to see the disregard that the Bethany Beach council has for the surrounding area and its residents. The lack of sufficient parking speaks volumes about their concern for said residents and only serves to perpetuate animosity. Although obviously not a concern for the residents of Bethany Beach and certainly not the town council, this might have been an ideal spot for additional parking with an overhead walkway, which would have no doubt helped the Bethany Beach business community (and again the residents of the surrounding communities). As it is, it appears that although it may not have been the intent of the Council when approving the “Park,” that the “Park” was constructed to ensure that no discussion could be made regarding adding additional parking at this location.
Finally, in a previous letter another Bethany Beach Council member noted that the federal government was scheduled to replenish the beach soon. Given the town’s reluctance to encourage visitors, maybe it would be more appropriate if the town of Bethany Beach and its residents pay for the replenishment of the beach themselves.