January 28, 2013

Raymond Beach manager could pick up some cash

The town again looks for someone who wants to run a food and rental business on the Sebago lakefront.

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

More than 10,000 vehicles pass Raymond Beach daily during the summer.

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Joanne Alfiero and her daughter Grace pick up trash on Raymond Beach last May, when Alfiero was the beach manager. She says the town needs a full-time manager in summer, which she is unable to do.

2012 Staff file photo/Gordon Chibroski

But food vendors have so far struggled to capitalize on the high-traffic strip of sand just off Route 302.

For the third year in a row, Raymond is seeking proposals from people, businesses or groups with interest in managing the beach on Sebago Lake in exchange for exclusive commercial rights.

The beach manager would be responsible for keeping it clean and, in exchange, would get a chance to make a buck off beach-goers and passers-by.

Hiring a private manager was the town's solution to a litter problem that forced it to shut down the beach in the summer of 2010, because it was too time-consuming for Raymond's public works staff to handle.

So far, it has worked out for the town. Town Manager Don Willard said the beach managers have held up their end of the agreement to keep the area free of trash.

"Now, we'd like somebody to actually realize some benefit themselves," he said.

The managers selected by the town for the past two summers have broken their five-year leases after the first season.

Jeff Pomeroy, a woodworker from Raymond, was the only applicant for the first summer.

He has said he spent $30,000 building a pontoon boat for a floating cafe, which sank as soon as it was launched.

He still ran the cafe, which was propped up on posts, and said at the end of the season that the business was a success.

But he wasn't able to get the boat out of the water for months, violating shoreland zoning rules and his lease.

Pomeroy never paid the fines for the violations, which the town has stopped pursuing, and hasn't returned repeated calls from the Portland Press Herald over the past year.

His replacement last summer was Joanne Alfiero of Windham, who ran a hot dog cart at the beach on the weekends with her family.

Although Alfiero said they made money when they were there, she and her husband have full-time jobs and couldn't run the cart on weekdays. And when family obligations came up on weekends, they didn't set up shop then, either.

"Somebody needs to be there every day," said Alfiero, who believes that managing the beach could be a great opportunity for the right person.

"At the end of the season, we talked and decided we couldn't put in the time that we needed," she said.

The town has put out another request for proposals, which are due Feb. 22.

The manager will be responsible for opening the beach at 9 a.m. and closing it at 8 p.m. daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, according to the request.

The manager will be allowed to have a cart or temporary building, rent canoes and other paddling or swimming equipment, and charge a beach admission or parking fee.

"We think simple is probably better, but we don't know. We're not in that business," said Willard, the town manager. "We do think it's a great location. We think it's a place where somebody could succeed."

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

lbridgers@pressherald.com

 

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