SCARBOROUGH — A new park proposed for Scarborough Beach ran into widespread opposition Monday night.

Black Point Park would serve as a sister park to Scarborough Beach State Park, providing the public with greater access to one of southern Maine’s most scenic and pristine beaches.

But at a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting in the town office, more than 100 people showed up to protest the proposal, which was presented by Black Point Resource Management.

Board members were still deliberating late Monday.

The applicant wants to build a new entrance to the beach and a staffed gatehouse, create parking for 500 vehicles, and add a concession stand, changing rooms, showers and a bathroom facility on a 64-acre parcel of land owned by Sprague Corp.

In order to achieve its goal, the applicant needs to obtain a special-exception permit from the zoning board for a commercial outdoor recreation facility, as well as site plan approval from the Planning Board.

Monday’s meeting was the first step in the approval process, which may take a while to complete.
The board was just beginning to take public comment at 9:45 p.m. after board members had taken turns reading more than 30 letters and e-mails – all in opposition to Black Point Park – into the record.

Before that, the board listened to a lengthy presentation from Sprague Corp.’s Seth Sprague and his landscape architect, Terry DeWan of Yarmouth.

Several letter writers were in the audience.

“We believe it should be denied as presented,” wrote Joseph Carlson II, president of the largest abutter – Atlantic House Condominium Association. “We feel it is the wrong class of use for this zone. It’s essentially a large parking lot with changing rooms and a concession stand.”

Sprague told the board that his family has a long history of trying to preserve land for public use.
Sprague Corp. operates Scarborough Beach State Park for the state Bureau of Conservation.

Creating a new park off Black Point Road would allow Sprague Corp. to discontinue the use of 140 overflow parking spaces next to the gatehouse at the existing state park. People who park there have to walk along a long, narrow gravel road, dodging cars along the way, in order to reach Scarborough Beach.

Sprague said a longer entrance road to the new park also would eliminate traffic backups on Black Point Road.

Sprague said Black Point Park would operate from May 1 through Oct. 1, be staffed with lifeguards, and be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Outdoor grills also would be provided, offering an atmosphere similar to state parks at Crescent Beach and Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth.

“The Sprague family remains dedicated to the original vision that P.W. Sprague had, preserving public lands for public use,” Sprague said.

In letters read by board members, neighbors and Prout’s Neck residents expressed a wide array of concerns.

Some objected to odors and smoke from outdoor grills, while others said the new park could threaten piping plover nests. Several said bringing 2,000 additional people a day – 500 cars with four passengers each – into the neighborhood would change its quiet, rural character.

Fumes from cars, reduced property values and degrading the beach’s character were also mentioned as concerns.

Attorney John Bannon said he was impressed with DeWan’s presentation, but that “zoning regulates good people as well as bad, and good projects as well as bad ones.”

Bannon, who represents a group of abutters on Kirkwood Road, urged the board to postpone action.

He called the park proposal a moving target and said, “You can’t evaluate something that you can’t see in its entirety.”

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]