Letter to the Editor: Oct. 31, 2012

Boardwalk loitering ordinance would aid tourism

I feel compelled to answer a very serious misconception going on around town regarding my request on the behalf of High Tides Restaurant to Town Council to pass an anti-loitering ordinance.

Our restaurant sits on the boardwalk in Colonial Beach and we provide an outside venue, the Tiki Bar, featuring top quality musical entertainment.  Only a small, three-foot split rail fence separates our Tiki Bar from the town boardwalk.  Over the last two summer tourist seasons, we have noticed an increase in groups of young people who plant themselves

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on the boardwalk right next to our fence during our performances and who stay in place for hours at a time.  Keep in mind, the boardwalk is about 10 feet wide and the sandy beachfront is probably another 20-30 feet deep before you reach the water’s edge and offers plenty of room for people to sit down, spread out and enjoy the beautiful summer evening and still hear the music.

Because I had many customers complain to me about the groups hanging on the fence, which is only a few feet away from about eight of our customer tables, I thought the right thing to do would be to ask our Town Council to look into crafting an ordinance that would discourage large groups from choosing the fence area to listen to music for hours at a time.  However, my words and my request have been misunderstood and I want to set the record straight.

High Tides has been and continues to be a contributing business in our town, serving as both a tourist and resident destination.  We strive to be good neighbors and taxpaying citizens, while working hard to maintain and grow a quality business we can be proud of.  Never once during my request to the Economic Development Committee did I say that my motivation was driven solely by money.  Of course, every business has to consider the bottom line, but my initial concern was that the loitering right at the fence separating the boardwalk and our restaurant was driving customers and tourists away.  I was not looking for a way to tax folks who want to sit on the beach and enjoy the music, but looking to protect the customers who had paid to sit near the band.

After all, if you were sitting at the beachfront, listening to a band or talking with friends, would you like it if a large group of people were talking loudly (and often times profanely) only a mere two or three feet away? Most of my customers are understanding and just move to another area inside the Tiki Bar, but quite a few just leave and choose not to return.

Colonial Beach is a resort town with an opportunity to increase our economy with tourist dollars.  Having a friendly ordinance that keeps the “clumping” on the boardwalk of large groups to a minimum, would only serve to better the experience of those visitors that have chosen to spend their money in Colonial Beach.  Those large groups could sit on the beach and still be able to hear the music.  Young couples, old couples and people in between would be able to take a stroll, walk our boardwalk and enjoy the natural beauty of our beach without having to fight their way through a standing still crowd.

I hope if you are my neighbor, my customer, or a resident of this town, you will think a bit about what I have asked of council and maybe understand that, as a business, I must always strive to make my customers’ experience better and that by doing that, I make the quality of life better for all the town’s residents.

 

Vickie Coffman 

Colonial Beach

Posted on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 11:59 pm