Each year, the Town of Scarborough undergoes a thorough budget proposal, review, and adoption process from April to June. A significant component of the budget is an investment in capital improvements, including equipment, vehicles, and infrastructure projects. The sizable increase in capital spending proposed in this year’s budget largely comes as a restoration effort from the cuts made in the budget last year. The FY2021 capital budget was severely reduced in order to minimize the impact on taxpayers. While this was a prudent decision at the time, the needs have not diminished; they have since remained constant or grown, and in most cases have also grown in cost. Capital needs do not resolve themselves, and deferring projects typically costs more in the long run.

This year, the capital budget was developed as a means of rescheduling priority infrastructure projects that have already been delayed. The capital funding requested in the FY2022 proposed budget would initiate the first year of a five-year overall Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), with the majority using long-term borrowing. There are many projects and needs included in the proposed capital budget, but three in particular showcase the value of enhancing our Town infrastructure for the benefit of community members by way of traffic management, protection of our natural resources, and recreation enhancements.

Traffic is an ongoing concern for residents and those who commute through Scarborough. In an effort to address congestion, safety, and improve the overall flow of traffic, the Public Works Department is proposing a U.S. Route 1 Adaptive Traffic Controls project in the Oak Hill area. Adaptive traffic control systems constantly monitor the traffic signals at the intersection(s) and adjust to the highest demand within the intersection. This facilitates a reduced waiting time at intersections, in turn decreasing carbon emissions and maintaining a steady traffic flow.

This comes a couple of years after an installation of adaptive traffic controls at three Dunstan corner intersections. The project has been a great success, resulting in a 24 percent reduction in wait and travel times. Due to the positive impact, Public Works plans to continue the installation of these state-of-the-art traffic controls at other busy intersections in Scarborough. The FY22 installations will include the five intersections between Ward Street and the Maine Medical Campus. This investment will be paid for using Traffic Impact Fees collected from developers, so no tax dollars will be required.

Another capital project outlined by Public Works is the continuation of the Gorham Road Reconstruction Project. Phase III of the project will address drainage and traffic concerns related to the section of Gorham Road from Maple Avenue to Ridgeway Road. Gas and sewer line replacement will occur this summer, with the road reconstruction scheduled for summer 2022. The work also supports the Scarborough Complete Streets policy, adopted by the Town Council in 2016, with improved vertical alignment to the traveled way, the continued construction of a sidewalk along one side of the road, and improvements to overall drainage. The cost of this phase of the project will be offset by $700,000 from the State.

While the former two projects will enhance the quality of our roads and support more efficient travel, other capital investment projects serve to steward our natural resources and provide enhanced recreational services to residents and tourists. The Community Services department is proposing the renovation of the Hurd Park facility and parking. The facility serves thousands of residents and visitors annually and is the anchor to the Pine Point Beach experience.

In 1984, the Town of Scarborough received a Land & Water Conservation Fund grant of $131,600 with $65,800 being the responsibility of the Town. The intended use of funds was to build a new beach house with sanitary facilities and a concession stand, with a portion also designated for dune restoration, landscaping, parking area improvements, and engineering.

This facility has been well maintained over its lifetime, but now 35 years later, is in need of major renovation. The estimated cost of the final project is $630,463.00. The Town is again applying for a Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Grant. If selected, the grant would fund half of the project costs, with the remainder the Town’s responsibility. The Town’s portion may be funded or offset with past related expenses (design costs), in-kind donations and/or local funds. The expectation is that the source of any required local funds would be from Beach Reserves, so no tax support is required.

Proper investment and reinvestment in the Town’s capital asset is critical. The Town’s Capital Investment Plan (CIP) requires commitment and consistent investment. While it was appropriate to relax our commitment last year, it is important to return to the commitment to investing in our capital assets. The CIP will be reviewed as part of the Finance Committee’s final budget review. The meeting will be held virtually on Wednesday, May 12 at 4 p.m. and can be viewed live (on Zoom or YouTube) or watched back on the Town’s YouTube channel. Find the links to view or participate in the calendar listed on the Town of Scarborough website homepage. On the homepage, there is also a link to the Town Budget Portal, where you can review more capital projects, and the proposed FY2022 budget in its entirety.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: