Proposal would trim parking at Scarborough beach

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SCARBOROUGH — A public hearing held June 20 gathered input on the proposed elimination of parking within 50 feet of the entrance to Scarborough Beach Park to increase the line of visibility and prevent accidents with pedestrians crossing the road.

Before a final vote is taken, the Town Council will hold a second public hearing, on a date to be determined, to discuss an ordinance to limit parking at the entrance off season.

The area had been temporarily restricted in early spring to address concerns from users of the park; Scarborough Police Sgt. John O’Malley said the department did not receive complaints about the temporary ban.

Parking on both sides of Black Point Road is already off-limits from May 1 to Sept. 15. If the ordinance amendment is adopted, parking would be shortened by about three car lengths, or approximately 50 feet, on each side of the entrance during the 0ff-season.

The Scarborough Police Department recommended the change to Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina, who said she had received emails from constituents concerned about cars parking near the entrance of the beach at 418 Black Point Road.

O’Malley was present at the meeting to answer questions of the council and the public and said the park manager had brought the issue to his attention.

Councilor Peter Hayes asked if the area was mentioned by residents when the police department asked on its Facebook page for people to report areas in town they feel are unsafe. O’Malley said he was not sure, but he could look into it.

Hayes also asked how the ordinance would be enforced, to which O’Malley replied it would be on an as-needed basis during regular patrols.

O’Malley said traffic has increased steadily in that area and said the ordinance could prevent a tragedy. “It’s in our benefit,” he said of the parking ban.

Another concern is about parked cars blocking the entrance during the winter months, when people assume the beach is not open.

Larry Bruns, of Hanson Road, said he feels as though he is giving up a public right to park, and asked if the town has considered widening the road to create additional parking. “If I’m giving up a right, I want something in return,” he said.

Councilors said creating additional parking has not been discussed, but it was mentioned during the meeting that there is an auxiliary parking lot owned by a private landowner who could be asked about access.

Surfer and surf shop owner Ryan  McDermott said he has surfed at the beach nearly every day for 15 years and has concerns about preserving access to the beach. He said in the winter there are up to two dozen people on boards, adding it is one of the only places to surf off season.

Marvin Gates, of Black Point Road, said he often walks from his nearby home to the park in the winter, and has noticed the gate blocked by cars. “It’s not terribly dramatic, but shouldn’t happen,” he said. Gates said he’s in favor of restricted parking, but also thinks any more than 50 feet would push cars toward Prout’s Neck and a bend in the road that could create problems with visibility.

Gates said in the winter, the most cars he has seen at the entrance is about a dozen. He said on colder, blustery days, there usually isn’t much activity.

Juliette Laaka can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or at jlaaka@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JulietteLaaka.

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