Track View Terrace Scarborough,ME Meghan Condry

Many Scarborough residents agree that a solution is needed for overcrowding in Scarborough’s schools — an issue that has been ongoing for decades — but there is disagreement regarding where the school should be built, and how much should be spent on the project. To address this need, in November, citizens will vote on the issuance of a $160 million bond for a consolidated school project which includes a new, consolidated K=3 school and renovations to the middle school.

A location has been found for where a new school could be located.

Scarborough’s Town Council voted to accept a $7.2 million purchase option agreement for 22 acres in The Downs development. Overcrowding has been an issue for several decades. There is support to find a solution to the over-crowding in schools, but not everyone agrees the Downs is the best solution.

The $160 million bond that will be put before voters includes the land, the new school and off-site projects like roads and infrastructure. The K-3 consolidated school would replace Scarborough’s K-2 schools. As a result, taxpayers will see an increase in property taxes, but the real increase comes in about five years.

Scarborough Maine Advocate for Reasonable Taxes, SMARTAXES, opposes the consolidated school at the Downs because they don’t think the Downs is the right solution.

SMARTAXES expressed their support for delivering quality education while having reservations regarding the proposed project. They highlight that the proposed school exceeds the Maine Department of Education’s guidelines by 22%. SMARTAXES’ website contends that if the new school is approved by voters, it will become one of the largest elementary schools in the state, also ranking as the most expensive. They argue that the decision to replace these schools with a sizable 1,130-student mega-school lacks sufficient public input as well as a fair financial assessment.


In an op-ed in the Leader by SMARTAXES member Steven Hanly, he said, “the site selection process failed to adequately evaluate alternative sites to The Downs and did not consider the impact of the proposed location on the Sawyer Road/Track View Terrace neighborhood which will be irreparably harmed.”

One family, Meghan Condry and husband Zachary Lambert, are homeowners on Track View Terrace. Condry said they knew the town officials had been working to find a solution to the overcrowding in the schools but did not know the plans included their dead-end street. She said she and her husband only became aware of the impact which the school would have on Track View Terrace by chance when a neighbor told them about the land deal with The Downs. It was at that point that Condry and her husband began spending time reading documents and attending meetings.

Condry said the land deal contract between the town and the development company for the Downs requires a public access road to be constructed down Track View Terrace. “The road they want to create would go into The Downs development. It isn’t just a driveway to a new school. It is a road into a commercial and residential district.” She said realistically anyone can use the road as a cut-through to Costco or the new brewing company which would lead to an increase in traffic beyond just school traffic.

Lambert and Condry did not receive any notifications or letters regarding their property and the plans to use their land to construct a three-lane road until just a few days ago, Condry said. They got their first formal communication in a letter from Town Manage, Thomas Hall, on Sept. 19. Condry said the letter stated that after a legal review of the properties on Track View Terrace, they will invite the five homeowners to discuss the plans in mid-October. She said, “they don’t go so far as to say they will use eminent domain; they skirt around that as they have done from the start.” She also said that the letter states that the deadline for finding a different easterly access road is Dec. 31 — after the November election.

“The concerning part is our street is a dirt road with a dead end and private. To do any major changes to a private road you have to get permission from each of the owners on that road,” said Condry. She said her property line actually extends past the end of her driveway. She commented, “it is concerning, how can our land be a bargaining chip in a multi-million-dollar deal between The Downs and the town without consulting us at all on the use of the property?” She said the town should not undervalue the Track View property if it is so important to the project. “It is overwhelmingly beneficial for The Downs to get a fourth entry point, then they can say you can get there from north, south, east, and west and it helps the traffic flow in the development. The development is prioritized over residents.” She said both she and her husband support public schools and support finding a solution to the overcrowding problem but do not support this proposed solution.

Town Council Chair Jon Anderson wrote a prepared statement detailing all the work that has gone into this project. He said that over 46 sites in Scarborough were identified as possible sites for the consolidated K-3 school. “Upon completion of the rigorous data driven process led by residents, school staff, town staff, board members council members and experts a site located within The Down’s property was selected as the most optimal site to service the needs of the strategic school solution, while also being one of the more financially appealing sites given the readiness of the land.”


In addition, he said, the town receives benefits from The Downs. “From the economic development – not only financial benefits that support tax rate stabilization from new value created, but other policy benefits such as establishing more affordable housing choices.”

Anderson said he supports passage of the bond and wrote that The Downs is the best site for the school. Anderson covered several concerns, including discussing the impact on the tax rate if the ordinance passes. “Our validated financial model predicts an annual average mil rate increase of 3% over the course of the bond (consistent with the annual town council goal of inflation).” He went on to say “this 3% mil rate projection excludes this financial benefit, as well as additional school impact fees that would be collected, that could further reduce the overall tax impact. While this may mean the potential for more growth, it will also help to stabilize the tax rate and support long-term affordability for the town.”

The site addresses what will happen if the bond isn’t approved by voters in November, “Scarborough schools will not have enough room for enrolling students for the 2027 school year. This means not only will Scarborough not be able to offer students the educational structures they need and deserve, but taxpayers will have to fund triage, short-term fixes versus investing in a long-term strategic solution if it does not pass. The new unified school prioritizes community in design and the Scarborough school district prioritizes community in its district-wide culture. Not approving the land deal, the website states, will add at least $5-$11 million in additional project costs due to a time delay.

“As a councilor,” council member April Sither said, “I believe it is my responsibility to put a project through its paces before sending it to referendum. In the case of the unified school project, not only do I fully support sending it to the voters, but I enthusiastically support the project itself. Our community expects it’s leaders to be the experts when it comes to identifying solutions to really complex issues. I firmly believe the unified school project is the best solution for our kids, teachers, families, as well as the greater community.”

Voting takes place Nov. 7, from 7 a.m to 8 p.m, at the Scarborough High School in Alumni Gym located at 11 Municipal Drive in Scarborough. Absentee ballots are available through the Town Clerk’s Office.

Duck crossing sign Track View Terrace to Sawyer Rd in Scarborough Meghan Condry

Comments are not available on this story.