Scarborough town councilors are deciding this week whether voters will have the last word on the construction of Black Point Park.

On Wednesday, after The Current’s deadline, the council will have its first reading on a proposal to hold a referendum in the Nov. 6 election on a bond to pay for park construction.

The park is expected to cost about $1.3 million, according to Bruce Gullifer, director of community services. However, the town already approved $350,000 two years ago to pay for the park. If there is a referendum, voters will have to approve the remaining $975,000 needed for the project.

Residents criticized the council last year for spending money on the park before getting approval from voters. Under its charter, the town is required to get voter approval for projects costing more than $400,000. Orginally, the park was planned to be built in phases, each costing less than that.

“There’s been a lot of discussion in the past about the council exceeding the $400,000 limit in one capital project,” Town Council Chairman Jeff Messer said Monday. He said breaking projects up into less expensive phases is “kind of circumventing the spirit of the charter.”

When the town began construction on the park last spring, residents complained that they hadn’t been notified of the plans. In response, the town held a series of meetings to get more public input into the design.

The park was originally designed to include lighting, a public address system and a turf field – all of which have been eliminated from the plan. After reaction from neighbors, the design was reworked to be less focused on the athletic uses.

The park is now designed to have a multi-use field, basketball and tennis courts, restrooms and storage facilities, recreation areas for seniors and small children and a trail with fitness stations. A sidewalk along Fogg Road will provide safer access to the park for residents within walking distance, and the entrance to the park will be on Fogg Road rather than the busier Black Point Road, where it was originally designed.

The changes came from recommendations by residents, who gathered in focus groups a year ago to make suggestions to the town. The result looks more like Memorial Park, which is located behind Scarborough High School and serves the town with trails, open space, playing fields and a gazebo.

“It’s a little bit less ambitious in terms of a sports complex and far more ambitious in terms of multi-generational uses,” said Brian Van Dam, chairman of the Recreation and Community Services Advisory Board.

“I think the council’s going to be very supportive,” Messer said.


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