New parking signs draw criticism at Higgins Beach in Scarborough

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SCARBOROUGH — New signs have been posted along Bayview Avenue at Higgins Beach to reflect the new parking restrictions drafted earlier this year.

And already, people are concerned.

“The signs went up in good faith, but they’re wrong,” Surfrider Foundation Chairwoman Janice Parente said Wednesday. “Today you can park there and it doesn’t let you know that.”

As of May 1, parking is restricted to one hour along a section of Bayview Avenue, until Sept. 15, when it will be unlimited again. At that point, the town will take the new signs down.

“We couldn’t come up with wording that wasn’t confusing,” Town Manager Tom Hall said.

So the town decided to put signs up only during the summer and take them down again in the off season.

However, some say the signs at the beginning of the street that say “No parking on any street except as designated,” are confusing, since Bayview Avenue is not clearly designated as a parking area in the off season. Signs along Ocean Avenue approaching the beach say “No parking any time.”

“You have to let people know what they can do, not just what they can’t do,” Parente said.

Parente said she and the other surfers, who advocated strongly to keep off-season parking at the beach, said they’ve come up with year-round sign language that would be easy to understand and have sent their suggestions to the town.

The signs from Ocean Avenue to Morning Street would say “Seasonal Parking May 1-Sept 15 1-hr only, No parking 10 pm-6am, Off Season Parking Unlimited 5am-10pm.”

Signs from Morning to Vesper streets would say “Seasonal Parking May 1-Sept 15 No Parking Strictly Enforced, Off Season Parking Unlimited 5am-10pm.”

Hall said the town was trying to create signs that were acceptable to both the homeowners who have opposed parking along the beach, and the surfers and beach-goers who use the on-street parking.

“That’s difficult,” he said.

The issue is set to return to the Town Council for reconsideration after this first initial test year.

Meanwhile, the town is working to finish the parking lot it purchased near Higgins Beach. Hall said he expects the lot to be ready for visitors to use by the end of May.

A proposed $5 per-vehicle fee for parking in the lot is contained in the 2011-2012 budget that the council will vote on next month.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.

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New signs went up along Higgins Beach to let people know there’s no longer parking on side streets and only along Bayview Avenue. However, some say the new signs are confusing.

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