DNREC takes over operation of Deauville Beach in Rehoboth

Katie KazimirGovernment, Headlines


Rehoboth had been leasing Deauville Beach for $1, plus an admin cost, for a decade.

Deauville Beach will be managed by the state and not the city of Rehoboth Beach after the two failed to agree on a new lease.

In 2013, Rehoboth paid $1 total for a 10-year lease of the beach, which is off Surf Avenue, in addition to a one-time administration fee of $2,500.

“I think all municipalities would like ocean front state land for one dollar,” said Ray Bivens of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

“It wasn’t fair to do that for one municipality and not any other,” he said.

“We’re disappointed that after approximately 49 years of operating Deauville Beach on behalf of the state that we were not able to reach agreement on a new lease,” said a statement from Rehoboth Beach.

“However, after nearly a year of good-faith yet unsuccessful negotiations by both parties, we agree that it is in the best interest of all, and particularly those who use Deauville Beach, that DNREC take over operations there.”

The city promised a smooth transition and said it was sure DNREC would continue to provide a great outdoor recreation area at Deauville Beach.

With about 80% of DNREC operations funded through state park fees, Bivens said the “unicorn” $1 for a decade lease was no longer economically feasible.

Instead, DNREC proposed a new lease agreement saying Rehoboth would pay the state 15% of total daily parking fees.

Last year the city received $120,000 total from those fees. 

That agreement would have put Rehoboth in line with other municipalities, which generally pay a percentage of gross receipts, Bivens said. 

Rehoboth officials did not accept that deal.

The state countered, offering to drop the payment to 12% of parking revenue and offering a $15,000 credit for parking bumpers the city had installed last year.

“That means Rehoboth would basically have no payment due for the first year,” said Bivens.

“We thought we were going to be close to an agreement with Rehoboth, but it came down to one or two words in the contract,” he said.

The city and state mutually agreed to end negotiations and Rehoboth’s lease expired June 30, 2023.

The city had been leasing the beach from the state since 1975. 

“We are grateful to the state and DNREC for entrusting the City of Rehoboth Beach for so long with care for and management of this 600-yard section of our state’s coastal treasure,” Rehoboth Beach Interim City planner Evan Miller said.

DNREC’s Cape Henlopen State Park management unit has been put in charge of Deauville Beach. 

“We certainly know how to operate ocean front property,” Bivens said, noting that state-run Gordon’s Pond is conveniently nearby.

Deauville Beach will be managed no differently than other state parks across Delaware’s Coast. 

Deauville transition

DNREC and Rehoboth are collaborating on the transition plan, Bivens said.

He complimented the Rehoboth staff for being helpful despite the failed negotiations.

“For the general public, it will look and act very familiar,” Bivens said. 

Services such as tennis courts and beach chair rentals will continue being offered by outside companies under concession agreements.

The Delaware State Beach Patrol will provide lifeguard service from Saturday, May 25,.  through Monday, Sept. 2.

Delaware State Park Rangers will patrol the property.

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There will be a few notable changes under DNREC’s authority.

Rehoboth Beach parking passes will no longer be honored at Deauville Beach. 

A daily entrance fee, which has not yet been determined, will be in effect between March 1 and Nov. 30 annually.

And as with all Delaware State Parks, Deauville Beach will be considered a “carry in, carry out” property, with no trash cans provided. 

Visitors will be responsible for properly disposing trash off park grounds.

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