WEEKEND #2, 2020
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
THE REHOBOTH AVENUE BARRICADES
Where does the business community go from here?
Last week, city commissioners approved a plan to install barricades along Rehoboth Avenue in an effort to help town restaurants that apply for outdoor seating. The barricades started going up on Rehoboth Avenue early Friday.
"The goal is to aid social distancing and allow restaurants to expand with outdoor dining," explains Comm. Susan Gay. "I think we'll accomplish the distancing part and it will definitely help some restaurants but it's becoming apparent that the barricades could be detrimental to other businesses -- especially retail shops," she added.
So far, Comm. Gay says "Only a few restaurants within the barricaded areas are applying for outdoor seating." At last week's meeting she had expressed the need to be careful about helping some businesses while unintentionally hurting others. "We're all making compromises, but the plan needs more work," she said.
A letter and two petitions with more than 40 signatures of business owners have been submitted to the commissioners for consideration this week. The majority are opposed to the barricades.
Grant Willis of the Sierra Moon Surf and Skate shop started the petition. Having no parking on the Avenue for the shops is bad for business, he says. "When you shut off parking, you shut off access," he pointed out. He says he has firsthand experience with that since his shop is in the bandstand horseshoe where parking is often restricted which impacts his business.
Willis said the business community is all for helping the restaurants but the solution so far has not been on par with what was envisioned. The Chamber of Commerce sent this email alert on Friday stating that the plan was drafted by Rehoboth Beach Main Street.
Rehoboth Beach Main Street could not be reached for comment this past weekend.
As for why the barricades have "Suburban Propane" labels, Kevin Williams, public works director, says the company gave the city an "extremely good rental rate" for the barriers.
"They apparently have a big need in the winter at construction sites where they use many of these," he said. "They had just the right amount [around 300], could deliver and assist with the set-up, and they offered them at a monthly rate over the summer that was too good to pass up," he added.
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RESTAURANTS TO REOPEN TODAY WITH RESTRICTIONS
One of the many area restaurants planning to make a safe and successful reopening today, June 1, is The Starboard. "The long-awaited day is finally upon us," says owner Steve "Monty" Montgomery. This first phase, he says, is "almost like a dress-rehearsal for what we all hope will be closer to 'normal' operation by mid-June in Phase 2 and the 1st of July when we enter Phase 3."
"Rebuilding customers' confidence in each of our establishments is critical," he pointed out. "We all have to work extra hard to keep safety in mind as we get our employees back working and welcome back our customers to their favorite restaurants," he said. "Here at The Starboard we've been gearing up with a successful carry-out operation for 10 weeks, working on how we will reopen to seated diners when the light turns green. This is an exciting week for all to get back out and support local restaurants, the hospital numbers have been on a continued decline. We all hope and pray that continues as more and more businesses get open," he added.
"With the travel restrictions lifted," Montgomery points out, "rebuilding tourism is key to not only our own economic recovery, but also that of our state and towns. Here in Dewey Beach at The Starboard, we are ready and will be serving breakfasts at 8 a.m. every day from now through September."
Montgomery says the expanded outdoor courtyard at The Starboard will provide a beautiful outdoor seating in the fresh Delmarva salt air. "While safety has to be remembered and we will always reflect on those who have died from Covid-19, I think a majority of people are understanding of what needs to be done at this time, and are ready to venture out to support local businesses and make the most of the remaining summer season," he said. "Our excitement to have you join us is overwhelming," he adds.
Specific Phase 1 guidance for businesses is explained on the state website.
Photos courtesy Steve "Monty" Montgomery
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OFFICIALS INVESTIGATE LAKE GERAR ALGAE BLOOM
This past week, visitors to Lake Gerar in Rehoboth Beach have noticed that the water had turned a bluish-green with a foamy white substance on the surface.
Photo courtesy Stan Mills
On Wednesday, a DNREC emergency response crew was in town on Oak Avenue investigating. Michael Globetti, DNREC spokesman, says they determined that this was a naturally occurring algae bloom.
Todd Fritchman of Envirotech Environmental Consulting, the city's lake management firm, said that the lake had been treated this past week. On Saturday, he said the lake had been fully restored and the treatments were "extremely successful." Fritchman added that algae blooms such as this one are not uncommon especially for lakes that drain city streets. Silver Lake, he added, had a similar event several years ago that killed hundreds of fish.
This part of the lake has been a challenge for years. "Since SOLA3's first project was to work with the City of Rehoboth and DNREC in 2004 to restore long-neglected Lake Gerar, it is disappointing to see the deterioration of its western prong over the years," says Sallie Forman, SOLA3 president. SOLA3 is the organization which helps educate, research and promotes policies to protect, preserve and maintain Silver Lake, Lake Gerar and Lake Comegys.
"That area of the lake is severely polluted, very shallow so [it] receives more sunlight that warms the water, which is stagnant," she said. "These are prime conditions that promote algae growth and because they deprive fish of oxygen, can lead to fish kills. The water may be toxic if it is blue-green algae," she pointed out.
"We have been working with the city since 2016 to restore this area of the lake," Forman said. "That has been delayed for lack of budgeting and completion of the Lake Avenue Streetscape project. Budgeting is now promised for FY 2022. While recognizing that the city and DNREC have many new priorities brought on by Covid-19, remedial action is necessary sooner rather than later to assure the western prong of the lake doesn't continue to be a breeding ground for algae and a possible health hazard to wildlife and humans," she added.
Details on blue-green algae bloom are on the DNREC website.
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SEABIRD GETS STUCK IN FISHING GEAR
Rescued by Tri-State Bird volunteer
A Northern Gannet, a seabird that rarely comes to shore, was found on the beach off Olive Avenue this past Tuesday afternoon unable to fly and caught in fishing gear. Fortunately, Dr. Raymond Bryant, a volunteer for Tri-State Bird Rescue, came quickly to its aid. Shown is a photo like the bird he rescued.
"He had a fishing lure caught in one wing and was wrapped in its fishing line," he said. "I got everything cleared from him but I'm still going to take him up to Tri-State," Dr. Bryant added. "He should get some antibiotics and he has to be released at sea [as] these are birds that do not come on land at all so hopefully he'll be alright and [we] will make arrangements to take him back out in the ocean and released there." This is the actual lure Dr. Bryant untangled from the bird.
Dr. Bryant says birds caught in fishing gear is a common problem encountered in this area. So much so that Tri-State Bird Rescue has created this poster to heighten awareness of the problem.
Photos courtesy Andreas Trepte and Dr. Raymond Bryant.
REHOBOTH DRAWBRIDGE BACKS UP TRAFFIC
This past Wednesday morning, motorists were frustrated by delays experienced at the Rehoboth Avenue drawbridge. "A local barge operator and sailboat owner requested bridge openings," says Louise Holt, DelDOT spokeswoman.
Those back-to-back openings happened around 8:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Each opening lasted around 30 minutes, Holt said. "Since the contractor is still in the process of installing portions of the new electrical system, the back-up air motor needed to be used to operate the bridge, which is slower than the normal motor," Holt explained.
REMEMBERING THOSE WHO SERVED
This past Saturday, May 30, the Rehoboth Beach VFW held its annual Memorial Day tribute. Why May 30 and not the last Monday in May?
As the History Channel explains, moving Memorial Day from its traditional observance on May 30 to the last Monday in May has not been without controversy. Veterans groups have been concerned that more Americans associate the new holiday with the unofficial start of the summer and not with its intended purpose to honor the nation's war dead.
Rehoboth Beach police officers attended the service as well.
During the previous Saturday, May 23, thousands of spectators around the county enjoyed various assets of the Delaware Aviation Museum and others as they flew over the three county hospitals, all county high schools and many fire departments to honor the frontline healthcare workers, EMS and first responders, as well as all county high school seniors.
Seven historic airplanes took part in the tribute. The event was hosted by the Delaware Aviation Museum with assistance from Rickards Auto Body & Restoration, Chorman Aerial Spraying and WGMD. More photos are in last week's Cape Gazette and on the Delaware Aviation Museum Flickr page.
Photos courtesy Rich Applebaum and Hector Vazquez, Delaware Aviation Museum
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WHERE IS V.P. JOE BIDEN?
It does seem that the Biden residence has just been prepped for visitors, but as of Sunday evening, still no V.P. Joe Biden sightings have been reported.
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A look inside: Delaware Beach Life June 2020 issue
SUNDAY NIGHT PROTEST ON REHOBOTH AVENUE
A handful of women holding signs came to Rehoboth Avenue around 6 p.m. Sunday.
They walked on the median, later stood along the traffic circle before departing without incident.
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WGMD GETS NEW NEWSMAN!
"I am happy to be joining the talented team at WGMD in its 40th anniversary year," says long-time newsman Mark Fowser who starts this morning covering news for WGMD. "I have had great respect for WGMD's service to the community and its commitment to news on Delmarva," he added.
Fowser has reported previously for WDEL, WHYY, WILM, WXDE and for several stations in New Jersey.
PHOTOS OF THE WEEK
North Wildwood sign found in Indian Beach by Tony Crivella, Dewey Beach Preservation & Raking
Sweeping the beach at dawn by Tony Crivella, Dewey Beach Preservation & Raking
Along the Breakwater Trail in Lewes by Alan Lopez-Cadena
THE MERR REPORT--- Suzanne Thurman from the MERR Institute reports that her organization investigated the deaths of six dolphins and a harp seal this past week. As for the dolphins, most were adults and sub-adults and several were the offshore sub-species, which are larger, she said. One appeared to have been entangled in a fishing net. The others were too decomposed to determine a cause of death. They were discovered between Fenwick Island and as far north as Kitts Hummock. The majority were found along the Delaware Bay. It is likely that the storm's energy pushed these deceased animals ashore, she said. MERR will celebrate World Oceans Day next weekend. See this webpage for info.
DRIVER CRASHES INTO CURB/BIKE RACK/FIRE HYDRANT, FLEES--- Rehoboth Beach police investigated an accident in the ocean block of Rehoboth Avenue around 5 a.m. this past Thursday. A car, possibly a white BMW, crashed into the curb, fire hydrant and bike rack in front of Penny Lane. The driver fled in the car but left behind a significant amount of debris. The car should have obvious front-end damage. No word yet from police if the driver or car have been located.
DEAUVILLE SHACK GETS BURGLARIZED--- The Deauville "snack shack" was reportedly broken into this past Friday morning. Somebody had forced entry into the shack. No word yet from police on suspects or what had been taken.
FIRST JET-SKI ACCIDENT OF THE SEASON FOR O.C.--- A teenage girl was critically injured just before 3:40 p.m. this past Saturday while on a Jet-Ski in the Assawoman Bay near 125th Street in Ocean City. According to the Maryland Natural Resources Police, it was determined that the Jet-Ski two teens had been riding on collided with a center-console boat. One of the teens was slashed in the leg multiple times by the vessel's propeller. She was flown to a trauma center. This investigation is ongoing.
MAN SERIOUSLY INJURED IN O.C. ACCIDENT--- A man in his 20's was seriously injured in an accident late Sunday in Ocean City near 26th Street. At first he was thought to have been a pedestrian struck when he was found around 11:45 p.m., but later it was reported that he was thrown from a moving auto, suffering a suspected head injury. A state police helicopter flew him to a trauma center. Police are investigating.
MURRAY ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN FOR GOVERNOR--- Local attorney Julianne Murray of Seaford has thrown her hat into the gubernatorial race. She broke the news this morning with Mike Bradley and Jake Smith on WGMD.
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