Metered parking coming to Higgins Beach in Scarborough

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SCARBOROUGH — Metered parking will be a fixture along Bayview Avenue at Higgins Beach starting next spring. 

The Town Council voted 4-1 Wednesday night to make 11 spaces along the street free, one-hour metered parking from May 1 to Sept. 15. Two spaces for handicapped parking will not be metered.

Councilor Peter Hayes was the only dissenter. Councilor Bill Donovan, who lives in the neighborhood, recused himself, and Councilor Kate St. Clair was absent.

The decision came after several months of debate between beach-goers and neighborhood residents, who complained about excessive noise, public indecency, and parking violations along Bayview.

Town Manager Tom Hall recommended the council purchase rather than lease one metered kiosk from Cale America of Tampa, Florida. Visitors would enter their license plate number and print a windshield-display ticket good for one hour of free parking. The kiosk would be installed in the spring and removed at the end of the summer season. 

To enforce the one-hour limit, a reserve police officer will patrol the area from 5:30 a.m.-9 p.m. during the week and on weekends from 5:30 a.m.-11 p.m. 

Overtime parking violations would result in a fine of $40-$80, depending on when the ticket is paid. 

Installation of the meter station, plus the cost of employing a reserve officer, would be about $17,000 for the first two months next year, which are the last two months of the town’s fiscal year. Thereafter, annual fiscal-year maintenance and manpower would likely cost about $18,500, Hall said.

With the exception of the installation and first-year costs, which will be taken from the Beach Revenue Account, subsequent annual costs would be funded through the town’s budget, Hall said. 

“I really feel the meters don’t address the original problem, the excessive noise, public nudity problem,” Hayes said at the Nov. 4 meeting. 

“This doesn’t solve any of those things. Not only is it ($17,000) this year to install it, but it’s an additional $18,000 to maintain (and) enforce it,” he said. “Last year we cancelled seventh-grade sports for less than that amount of money.”

As tight as resources are, Hayes said, “is this the highest and best use of our resources, to spend another $18,000 to enforce parking for (13) spots? It feels like it’s a solution looking for a problem,” he said. 

Chairwoman Jessica Holbrook said she doesn’t see metered parking as a “fix-all solution for everything, but I think it is probably about the only thing we could do to try and offer a little more enforcement and control and order down there.”

While the decision was made to meter the spots, but keep parking free along Bayview in the immediate future, some councilors spoke in favor of charging a fee for parking.

Councilor Ed Blaise, who owns property near Higgins Beach and has been vocal about wanting to remove the 13 spaces and revoke parking along Bayview Avenue completely, said by charging each car a nominal fee to park, “I think this thing will pretty much pay for itself.”  

Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina agreed.

“I personally would like to see that we would charge for parking down there. I would (also) like to see us do metering in the parking lots at some point,” she said in reference to the municipal parking lot off Ocean Avenue. 

“There’s so much micromanagement,” Maureen Cyr, of White Sands Lane, told councilors. … I think there’s just too much of an issue being made of it. There will always be people who will take advantage of it … people who will not pay the fine even though they’re fined, and people who will not respect the current rules.”   

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA

Beginning next spring, parking along Bayview Avenue in Scarborough will be free, but metered, for one-hour periods.

South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.