I was surprised yesterday to see a post on Facebook from the Steen family, who have been operating the beach concession for decades in Bethany Beach. The Town of Bethany Beach is proposing to take over the rental of umbrellas and beach chairs next summer – is this really a government service we need or want. “I know that umbrella has a hole in it, but that’s the one we have for you – sorry. I’m not allowed to replace it until the hole is 6 inches wide!”
There is an 11am workshop at the town hall to discuss this proposal – please attend and voice your opinion. Here is the letter I wrote to the Town Council:
“So once again, the town of Bethany Beach is considering “taking over” services that have been provided for years by a well established local small business. I don’t know who wrote the proposal arguing that the town could make more money by operating the concession and could use the funds for a storm damage reserve – it was filled with “I believe” and “I think” – and the author should have been identified on the town’s website. It would let the public better understand motivations behind the proposal.
Regardless, the arguments are weak and not compelling at all. If the town thinks we are leaving money on the table, then just put a minimum bid in the process. Just because the town council may not have done its job over the past 20 years with regard to this concession, doesn’t mean that they should swoop in now and take over a service that has been provided for years by a private company. Just fix the bid process if that is the issue.
If the issue is that you are concerned about having money for potential storm damage, just raise our ridiculously low property taxes and build a reserve fund.
The service provided by the Steen’s has been exemplary over the years. I have never heard a complaint about the beach concession. Do you really think a couple of be bureaucrats hiring 20 kids would provide a good service to our residents and visitors? I don’t think so.
I do not want or need my local government to manage umbrellas and beach chairs on the beach. Try focusing you attention on flooding, zoning, and the building inspector office. Once we get to the point where local builders will not want to build homes in the town because the inspector changes rules and makes their lives miserable, operating a beach concession will not seem that important.”
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