Mayor Ford addresses proposed changes in parking meters12/13/2013
There are two issues being considered by the City of Lewes regarding parking that affect areas close to the downtown businesses. Both of these topics have been discussed over various months at committee levels, and were also introduced at the regular meeting of Mayor and Council on December 9, 2013. Action was deferred by Council until the January 13, 2014 meeting to allow for additional time for exposure and comments by the public. This correspondence is part of an outreach and communications effort on behalf of City Council. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or also feel free to contact any other member of City Council.
The first topic is consideration of a meter rate increase from 75¢ to $1.00 per hour for areas of the downtown post meters and the W. Third Street, 1812, and the Canalfront Park parking lots. No other changes in hours of operation or length of the meter season would be considered. Estimated revenue of $30,000 per season is anticipated. Discussion regarding the placement of a change machine to be located in Mary Vessels Park was positive by the council, with revenue generated by the rate increase being a source of funding for this amenity. New public restroom facilities will also be constructed at this park, and in Zwaanendael Park, anticipated to be finished in time for the upcoming season. The City has also placed public recycling containers in most of the commercial core area and will continue to operate this service as part of a larger environmentally progressive movement by Lewes.
The second topic is consideration of a concept of “All Park, All Pay” regarding use of handicap parking opportunities. Currently, the designated handicapped parking spaces are not subject to meter costs. In addition, a vehicle displaying a handicap plaque from the mirror is not subject to paying for the meter expense of a metered space. The proposal would require payment of all meter spaces by all parked vehicles, and eliminate the handicap exception. Currently, Lewes is the only municipality in the State of Delaware to recognize an exemption fee for handicap parking. The Council realizes that, due to the nature of our community, while the City may be code compliant with the number of handicap spaces available, we may not necessarily be community compliant. The Council will review the number of handicap spaces currently available and consider the possibility of additional spaces being provided. This action could then result in a reduction of spaces available due to the size requirement of handicap spaces being larger than regular spaces. A change in the number of handicapped spaces is still in the infancy stage but will be explored.
As always, the topic and then actions to address parking are intertwined and complicated. The Council is continuing to attempt to address these issues to the best of our ability while also being cognizant of the operations of the businesses and year-round residents of our community. Council is also exploring options regarding a jitney or shuttle service to help address our transportation challenges. We expect to have reached the level of public commentary and input on this topic in early 2014 with hopes of a possible pilot program for this season. Undoubtedly, the City will realize some operational expenses involved, either directly or collaterally. Please feel free to provide your input or other suggestions at any time, and thank you for your continued diligence as you face the challenges of business management for the benefit of our community.
Mayor Jim Ford