Scarborough compromise extends Higgins Beach parking, limits spaces

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SCARBOROUGH — Parking along Higgins beach will now be allowed year-round, restricted to one hour in the summer and unlimited in the off season, for approximately 15 cars.

All other parking along the beach and nearby streets has been eliminated.

Also, the off-season has been extended by six weeks to match other town beaches. It will begin Sept. 15 and end April 30.

After a series of amendments, some that passed, others that failed, the Town Council on Wednesday reached a compromise. It allows parking along Bayview Avenue from Pearl Street beyond a new drop-off zone, to Morning Street. Previously suggested no-time-limit parking from Morning to Vesper streets was eliminated.

“I think they did a good job compromising,” said Higgins Beach resident and Higgins Beach Committee member Barbara Belicose. “I’m thrilled about the side streets, disappointed about the summer parking.”

Surfers who use the beach were less enthusiastic.

“The people who wanted this have cars parked along the beach year-round and now only 15 people can go winter surfing,” said surfer and Higgins Beach Committee member Iver Carlsen.

The decision comes after several months of public hearings attended by hundreds of people, some in favor of the Higgins Beach Committee’s initial recommendation to restrict parking to 30 minutes during the off season, others opposed  to off-season parking restrictions.

A group that wanted off-season parking rules to be extended to match the rest of Scarborough’s beaches gathered 1,065 signatures on a petition for the council.

Those in favor of the committee’s recommendations cited safety concerns on the narrow streets and questionable behavior by some beach visitors, while those opposed to the restrictions decried the restriction of public access.

With Councilor Richard Sullivan absent, several amendments failed Wednesday night by a vote of 3-3, including one by Councilor Michael Wood to allow only one-hour parking year-round on Bayview Avenue. An amendment to allow two-hour parking during the summer also failed.

An amendment that limits parking from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. in designated spaces passed 4-2, with Councilors Jessica Holbrook and Karen D’Andrea opposed, while a previous amendment to limit parking from sunrise to sunset failed.

Several councilors emphasized that the issue should be re-evaluated in December and that the data from the previous season should be reviewed if changes to the new rules need to be made.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net

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