SCARBOROUGH – The private organization that operates Scarborough Beach State Park is seeking approval for an expansion of parking to alleviate traffic congestion near the popular spot.

The Sprague Corporation’s Black Point Resources Management, which has been managing the beach for the state since 1993, has developed a plan that would create 500 new parking spaces.

The group was scheduled to present the plan at a meeting of the Scarborough Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday to gain the boards approval of creating a commercial outdoor recreational use in a rural/farming zone. The meeting was cancelled, however, due to an impending snow storm. A new date has not yet been set.

“What we are proposing is not going to be an expansion of the Scarborough Beach State Park,” said Seth Sprague, president of Sprague Corp. “What we are going to be doing is creating a whole new access, new facility to the land to the west that is contiguous to the park.”

The plan calls for a 500-spot parking lot, bath facility and beach access path between the entrance to Scarborough Beach State Park and the Atlantic House condominiums on Black Point Road.

Sprague said that while it would not be part of the state park, the new access point would operate similarly to the state park entrance next door.

“We are thinking of offering a pass that would be good for both facilities,” Sprague said.

The reason for the new beach access to Scarborough Beach, Sprague said, is due to the traffic backup on Black Point Road from people trying to access the state park.

Currently the state park has 290 parking spaces on site, with another 140 spaces on land along Black Point Road that the Sprague Corporation leases for parking. The plan would eliminate those spaces, which Sprague called part of the traffic problem.

“Those parking spaces on the opposite side of the road causes, in our opinion, an unsafe situation, with people trying to back out of the spaces or walking across a road full of cars,” Sprague said. “By providing new and more efficient access and more parking spots, we are hoping to eliminate traffic congestion on Black Point Road.”

Getting the Zoning Board of Appeal’s blessing, Sprague said, would only be the beginning of a “pretty rigorous process.” The Planning Board would also have to review the plan, and special permits from the state Department of Environmental Protection to work in the dunes and wetlands may be needed.

In November, residents in that part of town got their first taste for the project during a meeting at nearby Camp Ketcha that was hosted by the Sprague Corp.

“Naturally people in the area are concerned about how this will impact the area,” Sprague said. “We wanted to get the community involved early on to hear what the concerns may be. We have heard from the community and met with representatives from a number of neighborhood associations and wildlife biologists and experts. We have evolved the plan to meet those concerns since we initially brought the first rough sketches forward.”

The concerns he has heard from nearby residents, he said, have included how the new parking lot and facilities will impact traffic on Black Point Road and how it will impact the beach itself. A traffic study, he noted, is going to be part of the plan.

The bathhouse, he said, will be modest and include a limited amount of restrooms, showers and a small concession stand.

All in all, Sprague said, he feels the new parking facility and beach access will not negatively impact the beachgoers at the state park.

“We think it is going to improve the experience state park visitors have by reducing the traffic tie ups on Black Point Road so people can feel they can access the state park, and if there is not room they can come to the beach next door,” he said. “The rates will be compatible with each other. We are hoping it will make for a better beach experience.”

Sprague said the plan, despite concerns from residents, meets the town’s vision of preserving open space and providing public access to waterfronts.

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