The private operator of Scarborough Beach State Park is planning an expansion that includes more beach space and a new access road and parking area to the north of the popular surfing and swimming spot.

Representatives of the Sprague Corp., which manages Scarborough Beach and owns the oceanfront land to the north, have met with town officials and neighbors over the past few weeks to discuss the plans.

The company has not submitted any formal application to the town, but it is expected to seek approvals soon to open the new beach area for the summer of 2011, said Town Planner Dan Bacon. “It’s a fairly long stretch of undeveloped beach,” he said.

Bacon said he was shown a general concept plan that included the new driveway from Black Point Road, an unpaved parking area and a building for bathrooms and a concession stand.

The road and parking area would be mostly on fields that are now leased to a vegetable farmer, who would continue to grow crops on the remaining farmland, Bacon said.

The new beach access was presented as a private operation, with fees similar to those at the neighboring state park, he said.

“They want this to complement the other beach and not compete with it,” Bacon said.

The plan calls for about 250 parking spots, with room to expand depending on demand, according to those who were briefed by the company.

Further details of the plan were not available Wednesday. Seth Sprague, who runs his family’s land management company, was traveling and could not be reached. A design contractor hired by the company, Terry Dewan, said he could not provide any information about the plan.

The idea is already getting mixed reviews.

Scarborough Beach is so popular on summer weekends that its limited parking areas fill up quickly and visitors are turned away. Cars sometimes line up on narrow Black Point Road, the only link to the summer community on Prouts Neck.

The beach is known for having warmer water and better waves than other beaches in the area. The state park had almost 90,000 visitors this past season, according to the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.

An expansion would increase access for visitors from surrounding communities. It also would mean the end of a quiet spot that’s appreciated by locals, according to neighbors.

“This is one of the beaches you can go to for solitude,” said Martha Baidarka, who lives next to the beach on Black Point Road. Her family has been allowed to follow a wooded trail to the quieter northern section of Scarborough Beach for generations, she said.

An expansion with a new parking area could bring a total of nearly 500 more cars to the beach, she said. The state park now has spaces for about 410.

Baidarka said more than 50 people attended a meeting at nearby Camp Ketcha on Nov. 22, after the Sprague Corp. and Black Point Resource Management LLC, its management arm, sent a letter to the immediate neighbors.

“There was one person in the room who was a surfer and thought it was a great idea. Everybody else was worried about what would happen to the beach,” Baidarka said.

She said the northern section of the beach has been home to nesting piping plovers, which wildlife officials have tried to protect from people and pets.

Bacon said it’s too soon to know whether the town’s Planning Board will have any reservations when the project is formally submitted. He said he anticipates that neighbors will raise concerns about the effect on the beach and ocean views.

The Sprague Corp., which manages the Sprague family’s land in Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough, once owned the entire beach, including the park. It sold the southern section for $2 million in 1999 in a deal that protected the beach as state property but allowed the family to continue managing the park and keep 95 percent of the revenue.

That management contract runs through 2013, said Will Harris, director of the Bureau of Parks and Lands.

Harris said he has heard about the expansion plans indirectly.

“They’re doing that basically on their own. That’s their land and we aren’t really a part of it at this point,” he said. “Our understanding is, what’s being proposed will be a public beach but run privately.”

Harris said he doesn’t know what effect the expansion would have on the state park, but it would increase capacity for people who want to get to the surf.

“It’s a popular beach,” he said. “Parking is and has been one of the limiting factors at that beach.”

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

[email protected]