SCARBOROUGH - A walking tour of one of Scarborough’s most scenic parcels of land did nothing to convince neighbors and beach-goers that converting the 62 acres into a public park would be a good idea.
About 50 people accompanied members of the Scarborough Planning Board on Monday evening for a site walk of the proposed Black Point Park at Scarborough Beach.
Town Planner Dan Bacon said the site walk was one step in what could be a long review process. Bacon said the board will hold at least one more public hearing.
The site for Black Point Park is off Black Point Road, on land owned by the Sprague Corp. of Cape Elizabeth.
The park would relieve pressure on nearby Scarborough Beach State Park, which is often filled to capacity on hot summer days. It also would bring more cars and people to a largely upscale, rural neighborhood.
“We are so upset by this,” said Alix Smith, who has lived at Prouts Neck for more than 40 years.
She said her grandfather was Phineas Sprague, who acquired the parcel in the late 1800s. “It’s going to ruin the whole community,” she said.
In September, Black Point Resource Management presented its final plan for a new beachfront park to the Planning Board. Black Point Park would have enough parking area for 370 vehicles and enough space on the beach for about 900 people at high tide.
Planning Board members told people who attended that meeting that they will take a cautious and measured approach before deciding whether to approve the developer’s site plan.
“This site walk is really for observation only,” Bacon told the people who gathered Monday on the edge of a cornfield.
The group cut across the field to a grove of trees, where they followed a narrow path to a remote area of Scarborough Beach. A boardwalk 6 to 8 feet wide would be installed over the path to accommodate pedestrians.
“Hurricane Ophelia is 500 miles out to sea, which is creating a lot of strong surf,” said Terrance J. DeWan, the project’s landscape architect, as huge waves pounded the beach.
DeWan led the tour from the beach back to another section of the cornfield, which would serve as the parking lot. Several homes on Black Point Road, including the Kaler-Vail Memorial Home, would border the lot.
DeWan said those homes would be buffered by a 6-foot-tall berm with tree plantings.
After the tour, several people said it did nothing to address their concerns.
“The character of the beach will never be the same,” said Paul Cunningham, who has surfed at Scarborough Beach for 15 years.
Cunningham, who lives in South Portland, contends that the developer cannot guarantee that the park won’t disturb piping plovers’ nests or damage the beach dunes.
“I’m saddened to see this because what they are proposing is a blatant commercial use in a residential neighborhood,” said Og Hunnewell, a resident of the nearby Prouts Neck neighborhood.
June Gillis, whose home is next to the site, said she never anticipated it would be developed for such a use.
“I always thought there would be a few houses, but that’s all,” she said.
Alix Smith said her grandfather “would be turning over in his grave if he could see this. He bought this land in the late 1800s with the intention of (forever) preserving it as a open space.”
Seth Sprague, spokesman for the Sprague Corp., has told the town that the park would fulfill the vision of his family, which has sought to preserve land and provide public access to the ocean in Scarborough and Cape Elizabeth.
Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org