There’s no question that Joanne Alfiero is keeping her end of the bargain as the new manager of Raymond Beach.

Since she learned last week that she got the job, she has been combing the parking lot and strip of sand off Route 302 for trash.

“Coolatta cups,” she said Wednesday, referring to the frozen drinks sold at Dunkin’ Donuts. “That’s my biggest find.”

For keeping the beach clean, Alfiero will lease the space from the town for free so she can run a hot dog cart. But she won’t be able to cash in on this weekend’s Memorial Day rush.

The town struggled to replace last year’s manager, Jeff Pomeroy, and by the time it picked Alfiero, she didn’t have enough time to get the permits to open her food cart this weekend.

Pomeroy was supposed to have a five-year lease as manager and operate a floating cafe off a dock at the beach. But his homemade pontoon boat sank on the day he put it in the water last summer.

He ran the cafe out of the boat anyway — it just settled on the bottom — but once the summer was over, he couldn’t get it out of water. That violated shoreland zoning regulations, and the town terminated his lease.

Pomeroy still has outstanding fines from the zoning violations. Selectman Joe Bruno said the town is “pursuing all avenues” to resolve the situation, but he wouldn’t be more specific.

Despite the problems, town officials were pleased with how clean Pomeroy kept the beach.

The 400-foot-long strip of sand is the only free, public access point to Sebago Lake. Other beaches on the lake are free for Raymond residents.

Raymond Beach developed a reputation for people leaving trash, and in July 2010 selectmen closed the beach after public works employees found human feces and dirty diapers while cleaning up the area.

At that point, they started looking into getting a private manager. Last year, Pomeroy was the only applicant.

This year, three people applied, but only two of them showed up for a selectmen’s meeting in April to present their plans.

Rhonda Keene, a Dunkin’ Donuts manager and a lifetime food industry worker, proposed to run a hot dog cart. Alfiero had a more involved plan, to hold community fundraisers and lobster bakes on the beach.

“Last year was such a fiasco and a disaster that we learned simple is probably better,” Bruno said.

The selectmen chose Keene at their May meeting, but the town wasn’t able to reach her for days.

She said last week that an unexpected family situation arose, and she wouldn’t be able to manage the beach.

In the meantime, the weather was warming up and there was no manager for the beach. The town asked Alfiero if she was still interested. And she was.

“I’m excited to get the chance, whether they choose me fifth or tenth,” she said.

Alfiero had a food cart lined up to buy once she got word from the town, but the state must inspect it before she can start steaming hot dogs. That could take another two weeks, she said.

She agreed to keep things simple for the first summer, at least, while she works out the kinks. Still, she can’t stifle her creative spirit.

“We’d like to have a different special every weekend,” said Alfiero, listing meatball sandwiches, sausages and peppers, and kielbasa as possibilities.

Alfiero worked in restaurants for years as a bartender, and since then has been in sales and marketing. Around the time her daughter, now 11, was born, she started a business distributing publications and doing commercial cleaning on the weekends.

As for her cooking experience?

“We have dinner every night,” Alfiero said.

Alfiero, who lives in Windham with her daughter and husband, said even though she won’t be able to make money this weekend, she’ll make sure the beach stays clean throughout the holiday.

“We’ll be up there, regardless,” she said.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

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