July 17, 2013

Scarborough drops proposal to regulate roadside memorials

A vote on new rules was removed from the agenda because the plan caused 'concern and grief' for people in the community, according to a town official.

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

SCARBOROUGH — A vote on a new policy to regulate roadside memorials has been removed from Wednesday's Town Council agenda.

click image to enlarge

A roadside memorial occupies the location of a fatal accident on Payne Road in Scarborough. The Town Council has put off consideration of an ordinance to regulate such displays.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

The proposal to regulate roadside memorials for people killed in accidents was prompted by concerns about safety, including memorials becoming a distraction to drivers. Town Manager Tom Hall said the vote was removed from the Town Council agenda with the support of Chairman Ronald Ahlquist.

“I don’t expect it to appear any time soon, if ever, on the council’s agenda,” Hall said. “Clearly it has been the source of some concern and grief to members of the community. This issue isn’t so important as to cause grief to these folks."

The proposal was prompted largely by a memorial at the intersection of Payne and Holmes roads, where Steven Delano, a Scarborough High School senior, was killed on May 8, 2010, when the car he was driving was hit by a tanker truck. Delano, 18, was driving three friends to the high school prom at the time of the crash.

Kevin Grondin, who was in the crash with Delano, his best friend, told the Press Herald earlier this month that the memorial should remain untouched.

"They will never touch it, ever," said Grondin, who visits three or four times each week.

Hall said trying to regulate memorials would be complicated by their locations. Those on the town’s rights-of-way would be subject to regulations, but town officials would not have any control over memorials on private property.

Hall said town officials can talk with families and friends after a tragic accident about how to best memorialize their loved ones. Beyond roadside memorials, people also can be memorialized in town with scholarships, benches or trees dedicated in public parks, or with events like a memorial run, he said.

“It was the right decision not to press the matter” of regulating memorials, Hall said.

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