Park Manager Kurt Shoener gives direction to a visitor looking to enter Kettle Cove State Park on Monday. Kettle Cove opened to foot and bicycle traffic, while Crescent Beach, Two Lights and Scarborough Beach State Park opened to all traffic. Staff Photo: Sean Murphy

CAPE ELIZABETH — Officials have re-opened state parks in Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough, marking the last large outdoor recreation areas in the region to re-open following closure due to coronavirus pandemic concerns.

Starting Monday, June 1, Two Lights, Crescent Beach and Kettle Cove State Parks in Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough Beach State Park in Scarborough have re-opened to the public after closing on March 26 due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

It was a chilly on Monday morning, but several visitors were out at Crescent Beach. Abby Forcier, of South Portland, was out with her children Duncan, 5, and Alice, 3. She said her family was “so excited” to be able to return to a beach they usually visit every weekend.

A water fountain is covered with plastic at Crescent Beach State Park. Services like these are restricted to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Sean Murphy / For The Forecaster

“We bought our (season) pass first thing,” she said.

A hundred yards away Nat Jordan, of Cape Elizabeth, was carrying a brightly-colored kayak down to the water.

“Can’t ask for better conditions,” he said.

Like many other open-air facilities and parks, state parks are open with restrictions. According to the department of agriculture, conservation and forestry, beach capacities are going to be limited to 50%, and visitors will have restricted or no access to water fountains, rinse showers, playgrounds, restroom facilities, nature centers and other park facilities.

“I am calling on everyone visiting a beach state park to honor distancing guidelines to protect each other and our park staff,” said Department Commissioner Amanda Beal in a statement announcing the re-openings. “We are closely monitoring conditions at the beaches and all of our state parks and plan to make modifications as needed.”

On Kettle Cove Road, Park Manager Kurt Shoener informed visitors Monday that the road to Kettle Cove Park was closed to vehicles, although visitors were welcome on foot or on a bicycle.

“We want to feel this out for the first few days, just to see what the crowds are like,” he said. “We’re being careful opening up to make sure that we can stay open.”

Scarborough Town Manager Tom Hall said he welcomed the Scarborough Beach re-opening. While the town’s other three beaches — Pine Point, Higgins and Ferry — hadn’t closed, there have been partial or total restrictions on parking since March, and Hall said residents have been looking for more outdoor recreation options.

“Having the other (state) beaches open will surely alleviate any pressure we’ve been feeling in the past,” he said.

A jogger runs on Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth on Monday. Sean Murphy /For The Forecaster

Hall said officials are still asking visitors to the town’s beaches to observe social distancing and other guidelines related to the coronavirus. While parking lots at all three beaches should be fully open by this weekend, Hall said, the town won’t start charging for access until June 19.

That’s a little late, he said, as usually the town begins charging for access around Memorial Day. Hall said he wasn’t worried about the delay impacting annual revenue from the beaches. The town, he said, starting selling seasonal passes on Monday, and given how brisk sales have been, he anticipates a lot of interest as the summer goes on.

“I think they’ll be more popular than ever this summer,” he said.

South Portland City Manager Scott Morelli said local beaches and parks have never closed, and remain open now.

“We’re pretty proud of the fact that we were able to keep those open,” he said.

Morelli said space has been tight, both in parking lots and in the parks themselves, and occasionally there have been complaints from concerned citizens about crowds and social distancing, but “overall, we’ve really not had that many problems.”

Sean Murphy 780-9094

Email: [email protected]

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.