Scarborough council OKs more parking at Higgins Beach

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

SCARBOROUGH — There will be approximately eight more parking spaces along Bayview Avenue at Higgins Beach in the off-season, in addition to the spaces already available.

The Town Council on Wednesday revisited its decision to limit parking at Higgins Beach to approximately 15 spaces along Bayview Avenue.

Councilors increased the length of on-street parking all the way from Morning to Vesper streets, but not before Councilor Michael Wood called into question the ability of the council to reconsider part of an order, rather the the full order.

“Within that whole vote, there was much discussion and compromise. I believe that was the reason why it passed,” Wood said.

However, Chairwoman Judy Roy said she conferred with the town attorney and consulted Robert’s Rules of Order.

Wood called for a roll-call vote to accept Roy’s research. It passed 5-2, with Wood and Councilor Richard Sullivan opposed.

The council then took up the reconsidered order. Councilor Jessica Holbrook brought up her recent discovery that the town owns a 60-foot right of way along Bayview Avenue. 

“Sometimes we’re wrong, sometimes we don’t always know all the facts,” she said. “It wasn’t until after the meeting I learned this was a 60-foot right of way.”

She cited deeds from 1915 declaring the right of way, despite the fact that such a large road was generally unnecessary at the time of horses and buggies.

“I think that speaks loud and clear as to the intent of the town at time,” Holbrook said.

Wood spoke against the proposed increase in parking, citing the existing paved space rather than the right of way.

“The right of way is 60 feet, but we’re not parking in the right of way,” he said.

The motion to add the approximately eight additional spots along the more narrow portion of Bayview Avenue passed 5-2, with Sullivan and Wood opposed.

Planning Board appointee

The council also voted on several appointments to town boards and committees.

While these appointments are rarely controversial, former council candidate Kerry Corthell’s nomination as a second alternate to the Planning Board drew some criticism from two councilors.

“I voted for people who had been in this town for 20 to 30 years and are experienced in this area,” said Councilor Ron Ahlquist, who also sits on the appointment committee. “The committee voted against me.”

“My basic feeling was that it was politics at play here,” Sullivan said of Corthell’s nomination.

Corthell moved to Scarborough two years ago from Ohio and has been active on town committees nearly since the day of her arrival.

Wood, who sat on and chaired the Planning Board for many years, said that while he had not initially supported Corthell’s nomination, after a lengthy conversation with her, he felt comfortable voting in favor of her appointment.

“I don’t hold anything back and neither does Ms. Corthell,” Wood said. “I came away convinced she understood the role.”

Wood added that when his appointment to the board was before the council, it also was controversial and he did not receive unanimous approval.

Several other councilors also spoke in favor of Corthell’s appointment. 

“I think it’s good to have at least some new people learning about our town,” Councilor Carol Rancourt said. “And right now, there’s not a woman on the Planning Board.”

The council voted 6-1, with Sullivan opposed, to approve Corthell’s appointment and the reappointments of John Chamberlain, Ronald Mazer and Jeffrey Thomas. David Bouffard was appointed as the first alternate.

Budget audit

During a brief workshop, the council heard from town auditor Macdonald Page & Co. about the status of the town and school budgets. Both received a “clean” opinion, which is the highest they could receive.

While the town’s financial house may officially be in order, Town Manager Tom Hall drew attention to the town’s use of undesignated fund balance to keep the tax rate low during the recession.

The town has used progressively more fund balance each year, decreasing the total amount in the account from $9 million in 2008 to $7.2 million in 2010.

“I know we can’t keep that up. This year is the year of reckoning, in that respect,” Hall said.

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

0