January 10, 2012

Neighbors urge Scarborough board to reject new beach park

More than 60 people attend the hearing on the proposed Black Point Park.

By Dennis Hoey dhoey@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

SCARBOROUGH — Residents of Black Point Road and the Prouts Neck neighborhood told the Planning Board on Monday that it should reject plans for a new beachfront park because the 370-car parking lot and the traffic it would draw would destroy the quality of life in one of the town's most rural and scenic neighborhoods.

The public hearing at the Municipal Building was the last opportunity for opponents of Black Point Park to speak before the Planning Board makes its decision.

Town officials say that decision is at least two to three months away, because Black Point Resource Management is still awaiting its required site location permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The Planning Board's policy has been not to act on a site plan permit until an applicant has all of its state and federal permits. The park's developers received their traffic permit from the state in December.

Crowds of people – nearly all of them opponents of the plan – have gathered at meetings to speak against the proposal every time it has come before the Zoning Board of Appeals and, more recently, the Planning Board.

The meetings have gone on for months. The zoning board decided in May that the park would meet the town's rules for a special exception as a commercial outdoor recreation development.

The developer is now before the Planning Board seeking site plan approval.

The Sprague Corp., one of the town's largest landowners, says it wants to increase public access to the ocean by building a gravel-based lot for 370 vehicles on a 62-acre parcel off Black Point Road.

The parking lot would provide access to a beach north of Scarborough Beach State Park, which is operated by the Sprague Corp. for the state. The new beach park could accommodate as many as 900 people at high tide.

Monday's meeting was no different from the other meetings, with more than 60 people attending.

Og Hunnewell, a longtime resident of Scarborough, spoke on behalf of the Prouts Neck community.

Hunnewell said the parking lot and the traffic it would bring to Prouts Neck could only harm the people who live there. Walkers, bikers and joggers who use Black Point Road also would be negatively affected by traffic.

"This is how quality neighborhoods can decline rapidly," Hunnewell said.

Bob Metcalf, a civil engineer from Kennebunk, also spoke on behalf of the neighborhood's residents. He said the scale of the proposal is enormous.

"The size of the parking lot alone is greater than the length of two football fields end-to-end. It's a substantial development for this piece of land," Metcalf said.

Betsy Chase, whose mother, Jackie Quimby, lives next to the property, said Black Point Park's parking lot would be too big. She said there may not even be a need for another beach park.

Chase said Scarborough Beach State Park reached capacity just eight times in 2010 – a figure she said she got from the state. Nearby Crescent Beach State Park in Cape Elizabeth has generally reached only 60 percent of its capacity for several years.

Bob Gould, president of the Prouts Neck Association, said the Planning Board has an obligation to deny the permit because the plan is in "violent conflict" with the town's comprehensive plan, which he said seeks to preserve and protect rural neighborhoods.

"The angst you have seen from so many citizens is concern over the detrimental impact this project will have on this neighborhood," Gould said.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: dhoey@pressherald.com

 

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