A Scarborough Public Works truck plows seawater and ice off Route 1 during a storm on Jan. 17. Courtesy photo

SCARBOROUGH — The Town of Scarborough held a virtual community meeting on Feb. 23 to gather public input on the town’s Climate Change and Resiliency Priorities. The town staff provided an overview of the vulnerable infrastructure.

On Wednesday March 2, the Town Council was to vote whether to approve a resolution designating either a citizen committee or a municipal employee to coordinate activities to reduce energy use and costs, transition to clean energy, and make the community more resilient to climate change.

Passage of the resolution is a necessary step to  be eligible to apply for the Community Action Grant to implement projects related to Maine’s 2020 Climate Action Plan called Maine Won’t Wait.

The Governor’s Office of Policy, Innovation and the Future (GOPIF) announced that grants are available to assist Maine municipalities and tribal entities in late 2021.

“Those wishing to apply for a Community Action Grant are required to join Maine’s Community Resiliency Partnership to be eligible to apply for a grant,” said Jami Fitch, Scarborough’s Sustainability coordinator.

In addition to passing the resolution, to join the partnership and be eligible for the grant funding, the town had to hold a community meeting, complete a self-evaluation. The town must choose projects related to 74 different actions that are outlined in the Maine Won’t Wait Climate Change Action Plan.  


Staff from Planning, Public Works, and Public Safety met to complete the self-evaluation in early February. The town departments collaborated to identify the strengths and gaps in Scarborough. A virtual meeting was held on Feb. 23 to provide an overview of funding opportunities and highlighted Scarborough’s critical infrastructure that has been threatened by sea level rise and severe storms.  

U.S. Route 1 at the Scarborough Marsh has been identified as the most vulnerable road segment. During the meeting Fitch discussed different options for Route 1 which would include abandoning the road and to re-route traffic to Payne Road, and option two would be to raise the elevation of the road. For option various scenarios would be considered, including raising the entire 3,000-foot segment or only the portion that crosses the Dunstan River. Additional vulnerable roads include Pine Point Road, Black Point Road, Payne Road, Scottow Hill Road, Sawyer Street, Winnocks Neck Road, Clay Pits Road, Spurwink Road, Fogg Road and Ocean Avenue.  

Fitch identified the most vulnerable utilities and neighborhoods in Scarborough which includes the drinking water supply sewer systems and storm water infrastructure. The most vulnerable neighborhoods include Higgins Beach and Pine Point due to the limited opportunities for adaptation to sea level rising, he said.  

More than 30 residents attended the meeting to provide input on the town’s resiliency priorities. Those that participated helped identify larger priority areas they felt the town should consider. Fitch said Building Resilient Infrastructure, Land Conservation, and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions were the primary topic areas discussed by participants. 

“A poll of meeting participants showed that 89 percent were very concerned with the resiliency of Scarborough’s critical infrastructure, including roads, utilities, and neighborhoods,” said Fitch. “Meeting participants expressed concern over the pace of development in Scarborough and cited the need for additional land conservation in town. Priority areas for conservation included lands adjacent to Scarborough Marsh and targeting strategic locations to preserve or improve habitat continuity. Some participants recommended setting a target of conserving 30 percent of Scarborough’s land area. A number of strategies related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions were suggested by participants, including the following: building weatherization, promoting the use of energy efficient heat pumps, requiring installation of electric vehicle chargers in new development, and promoting the development and use of renewable energy.” 

Grants available to communities will range from $5,000 to $50,000. Communities can only apply for one grant per funding round. The GOPIF plans to offer two funding rounds in 2022, one in the spring and one in the fall.  

“The Town is in the process of joining the Partnership and is on schedule to complete the required enrollment steps before the spring grant application deadline,” Fitch said.” The Town anticipates applying for grants in both the spring and fall funding rounds.”

The Town intends to submit a proposal for Community Action Grant as part of the March 22 funding round. The proposal will seek funding to carry out a community and stakeholder engagement process to complement MaineDOT’s resiliency study of Route One where it crosses Scarborough Marsh.

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