2012-12-21 / Front Page

Bathhouse construction nears completion

Higgins Beach structure features changing facilities and exterior showers
By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


The back porch of the Higgins Beach bathhouse will include two open showers and a handicap-accessible shower. The building, the first of its kind at Higgins Beach, is expected to be completed sometime in January. (Michael Kelley photo) The back porch of the Higgins Beach bathhouse will include two open showers and a handicap-accessible shower. The building, the first of its kind at Higgins Beach, is expected to be completed sometime in January. (Michael Kelley photo) The winter solstice may be today, but officials in Scarborough are already looking toward the summer beach season.

The construction of a new 1,200-square-foot, $300,000 bathhouse at Higgins Beach is nearing completion. Benchmark Construction, based in Westbrook, began work in October. Job superintendent William Sproul said the project should be done by the end of January.

“In the next few weeks we should be completed,” he said, adding some landscaping work may have to wait until springtime.

“We are on pace, or even ahead of construction,” said Town Manager Tom Hall. “The building is almost fully weather tight.”

Bruce Gullifer, the director of Community Services and the overseer of the project on behalf of the town, said the interior of the building, is “65 to 75 percent complete.”

Once completed, Sproul said the building, designed by Scarborough’s Gawron-Turgeon Architects, will include two exterior showers on the back of the building, a shower certified by the American Disabilities Act, a men’s bathroom and a women’s bathroom. The building will also house changing facilities and stations for changing babies.

“It is going to be nice for people to have a bathroom to go to,” Sproul said. “They just have a portable toilet right now. It will be a nice facility and will be easy to maintain.”

Sproul said the project was able to stay under budget so far.

“To my knowledge, we have stayed within budget,” Sproul said. “There have been no issues to drive the cost up.”

Despite the building being almost completed, Gullifer said it most likely won’t be open to the public until spring.

“I don’t plan to have it open to the public until it is done. I was thinking spring – probably the beginning of March,” Gullifer said. “We want to open it as soon as possible, but we want to make sure it is finished first.”

It is the first time a changing facility and bathrooms have been offered at the beach, although others public beaches in town— Pine Point Beach and Ferry Beach— have been offering the amenities for years.

“It is going to be a huge addition to the Higgins Beach area,” Gullifer said. “We will have a proper facility for the public. Even though it is two or three blocks away, it think it will provide a lot of benefit to the public using the beach.”

The hope with the new bathhouse is that some of inappropriate undressing will cease. Many residents in the Higgins Beach neighborhood complained of beachgoers and surfers changing in their cars, or in some cases right in the open.

“It will cut down on the amount of people improperly changing along Bayview Avenue. We will have a brand new facility that we will be able to direct people to,” Gullifer said. “All the other beaches have facilities. This will be an upgrade to the area and should certainly enhance the beach experience.”

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