Scarborough council OKs Pine Point Beach access plan

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SCARBOROUGH — A plan to create an access path between King Street and Pine Point Beach will move forward.

The Town Council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve $146,000 to fund the plan, which will create a drop-off point, landscaping and paved walking path to the beach. The approval comes after a lengthy and contentious process, including a land swap between the town and the Lighthouse Inn that upset some neighbors and Pine Point residents.

“This plan isn’t what we wanted, but we’ll take it,” said Judy Shirk, who is a member of the Pine Point Resident’s Association and has been vocal in presenting her concerns to the town throughout the process.

One of the biggest concerns expressed Wednesday was that the town could not afford to fund this project, even if the council gave it the go ahead.

But Town Manager Tom Hall had a surprise.

Hall said he had planned to use extra funds from the King Street reconstruction project. However, when bids for the project came in higher than anticipated, that left the Pine Point Beach access plan funding up in the air.

Hall said he worked closely with Public Works Director Mike Shaw to see if funding for the project could be found elsewhere.

“We identified other public works funds that were no longer needed,” he said.

The lower portion of Broadturn Road between the highway overpass and Route 1 was recently repaired for less than the amount the town bonded for the project. Hall suggested the council reappropriate those funds to the Pine Point Beach and King Street projects.

“There’s adequate funds to complete the project,” he said.

The reappropriation of $146,000 in Broadturn Road bond funds – $98,000 to the Pine Point Beach Access plan and $48,000 to the King Street plan – was approved unanimously.

Hall added that he believed there may be other funds like the Broadturn Road bond that were sitting unused, and that this process exposed that possibility to him.

“We will be going through and trying to find those now,” he said.

Because of the need to get this done before people want to access the beach, Hall said the town will split the Pine Point Beach Access plan into two phases, building the basic path and drop-off point this year and installing the landscaping, plants and “creature comforts,” such as benches and a water fountain, next year.

Dearborn Construction, the company that has been hired to complete the King Street project, will also do the work for the Pine Point project. This, Hall said, will save time and money.

“We need to be out of there by Memorial day,” he said.

Several of the 25 people in attendance expressed concern that a stone wall beside the Lighthouse Inn that juts into the right of way on King Street is not slated for removal.

Councilor Michael Wood offered an amendment to the motion to remove the wall and replace it with a sidewalk, esplanade or curb, which would be installed in its place. The amendment passed with only Councilor Shawn Babine opposed.

Wood also proposed an amendment to request that the crosswalks be made with DuraTherm, a tough plastic that is installed in the pavement and audibly alerts drivers of the crosswalk. That amendment passed unanimously.

Hall said the town is in the process of securing a permit by rule from the Department of Environmental Protection, which is required for certain activities under the Natural Resource Protection Act. Hall said the town investigated this at the request of several citizens and found that it did need to comply with the DEP regulations, despite earlier suggestions that the process was not necessary.

Landscape architect Keith Smith explained that the area closest to the beach would have dune grass and only native species, while the area closer to the road would have perennials and shrubbery.

The DEP has 14 days to respond to the permit by rule application. Hall said he had no reason to believe the permit would not be granted.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or