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Scarborough won't stand in the way of fireworks

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Scarborough won't stand in the way of fireworks

Town also considers new directional signs

SCARBOROUGH — Town leaders don't yet have any plans to bristle against a new state law allowing the sale and use of consumer fireworks. 

Town councilors and Fire Chief Michael Thurlow discussed the new law, and what they should do about it, at a meeting Wednesday night.

The law, signed by Gov. Paul LePage on July 1, allows the purchase and use of consumer fireworks, such as bottle rockets, morning glories and roman candles, but not the type of giant explosives that illuminate the sky on the Fourth of July. It also allows municipalities to pass ordinances regulating or prohibiting the sale or use of the fireworks.

"I'm of the mindset to say let's wait and see what happens in a year before we make any earth-shattering, strict ordinances," Councilor Richard Sullivan said. 

Thurlow suggested a requirement that businesses that sell fireworks be required to install sprinkler systems, and all the councilors who spoke on the issue said they supported that restriction. Town Manager Tom Hall said he already has had three inquiries from prospective fireworks dealers.

If the town is to follow the letter of the new law, the Ordinance Committee has its work cut out for it, Councilor Michael Wood said.

He said Scarborough's noise ordinance is vague, to allow easy enforcement without the need for decibel detectors or police training, so the committee may have to find a way to allow the crackle, whistle and boom of fireworks without making the law completely obsolete. 

Councilors on Monday also heard a status report from Planning Director Dan Bacon about road work resulting from the Payne Road West Traffic Study.

As a result of the study two years ago, Bacon said the town sought ways to ease traffic flow on the residential portion of Payne Road, diverting that traffic to Route 1 through the neighborhoods of Scarborough.

Four plans were approved, one of which was the recently completed renovation of the intersection of Haigis Parkway and Route 1, which included the addition of turning lanes and road medians. 

Plans for reworking Dunstan Corner are in the final design phase, and efforts to follow through on Payne Road traffic calming that began in fall of 2010 with the removal of a passing zone will continue this fall with the construction of landscaped medians on a stretch of the road near Cabela's. 

Bacon also introduced the council to Rand Ardell, a designer with South Portland's Ardell Simmons, who has been working with Bacon, Hall and the Scarborough Economic Development Corp. on the fourth plan: signage. 

The goal is not only to help direct traffic away from Payne Road, but to identify and strengthen the identity of Scarborough's neighborhoods and draw people to the towns attractions, such as its marshes and beaches. 

"The town has a great opportunity to influence drivers, especially ones from away," Ardell said.

Better signs have been one of the most frequent suggestions from residents for improving the town, Hall said. People complain that there aren't enough signs directing traffic and helping tourists, or even residents, find their way around. 

Ardell showed mock-ups of the sign design he and the others had been working on: a sleek, vertical, modular sign featuring sans-serif typography and a silhouette of tall marsh grass and cattails growing from a subtle, white wedge designed to evoke the sloping sand at Scarborough's beaches.

The signs are rust-colored and grey, and feature the town's name, a neighborhood name if applicable, and simple directional arrows and text with easy-to-understand place names.

Though he joined the rest of the councilors in supporting the work, Wood struggled with the iconography of the marsh on the signs, wondering whether it would be too much to have another image associated with the town. He said the town's official crest and logos from its 300th and 350th anniversaries are already established images, and that another may cause confusion about the town's brand. 

But Hall and Ardell stressed that the signs are not meant ot be an official town logo, rather they are designed to be evocative of the town as a whole. The marsh, Hall said, played a role in every town crest or logo.

"If you have to pick one iconic image of Scarborough, it's the marsh," Ardell said. 

Plans are also in the works to design new "gateway" signs at Scarborough's borders, which would be similar to the directional signs in an effort to build a town brand.

"When you leave from somewhere and arrive here, it's important to know: You're in Scarborough," Wood said. 

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or mmoretto@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @riocarmine.