Traffic, the pace of growth and affordability are the top concerns of Scarborough residents, according to the results of a town survey released Wednesday that left some town councilors seeking more insight.

Of the 600 randomly selected residents who responded to the mailed survey in the fall, over 65% said the town needs to make traffic flow a top priority. A majority of respondents, more than 77% and about 69%, respectively, said the pace of growth and keeping the town affordable will be big issues in the next five years.

However, the vast majority of respondents said they are satisfied with town services, with most town departments receiving an over 80% rate of satisfaction.

“It seems to imply that people are concerned about the sustainability, our ability to continue to provide services that would be affordable,” Councilor Don Hamill said at a workshop Wednesday when the survey findings were presented. “I don’t think we’ve moved the needle on that at all.”

Some of the priorities and concerns conflict with items respondents said they were satisfied with, Council Chair Nick McGee said.

“There seems to be a desire for more affordable housing and more workforce housing, and then in the same breath we have too much housing and traffic problems,” McGee said. “Couple that with the second-highest concern in town, which is the impact to taxes, let’s face it folks, affordable housing and workforce housing usually require some sort of tax subsidy.”


Councilor Jon Anderson agreed. Growth is a top a concern but it’s also a tool to address another concern – affordability – as more residents means more taxpayers, he said.

“I think the survey’s great in giving us the perception, but really what it leaves me with is more questions and more things I’d like to know,” he said.

While respondents’ approval of elected officials dropped by 12% since a 2021 townwide survey, the Public Safety and Public Works departments and Town Hall received high marks, with many well above the average satisfaction rate nationally. Public Safety, for example, received a 93% satisfaction rate, town staff 89% and library services roughly 81%. Nationwide, those categories have satisfaction rates of 65.4%, 39.4% and 63.9% respectively.

“Kudos to staff and Public Safety, incredibly impressive numbers,” McGee said. “If you look at the leadership we have here, it translates down to the staff and the experience people are having in this community.”

Survey respondents also cited communication as a priority moving forward, and Councilor Don Cushing said that ties into all of the concerns. He said people don’t want growth, for example, but they may not know the town has a growth management ordinance or that The Downs downtown development is meeting goals by concentrating growth in that area of town and increasing the tax base. He also noted the town’s goal of conserving at least 30% of land in town by 2030 to help protect its natural resources and curb development.

“What that says to me is, in part, I don’t know if people know exactly what it is the town is doing or what it is the town is legally capable of,” Cushing said. “We can’t build a wall, and one of the problems we face, thanks to all of our wonderful town employees, is that this continues to be a very desirable place to live.”

The survey was available to take online for residents who did not receive one in the mail. Online responses are being tallied and analyzed separately and will soon be available for council review.

The full 142-page report on the mailed survey is available at

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