2015-06-12 / In the News

News Briefs

Parking agreement with inn extended

The Town Council and owners of the Higgins Beach Inn have extended an arrangement for employees of the inn to use part of the municipal parking lot on Ocean Avenue in exchange for opening and closing the lot each day between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day.

The arrangement began in June 2011, shortly after the town purchased the lot to provide public parking for beachgoers. It was extended for a second two-year term in 2013.

The portion of the lot leased to the Higgins Beach Inn is located between the bathhouse and the residence at 37 Ocean Ave.

“The lot is very close to abutters and for that reason alone is not conducive to public parking,” Town Manager Tom Hall told member of the Town Council before they extended the lease agreement for the next five years.

Hall said the arrangement benefits both the town and the Inn. The Inn gets specified parking for employees — without having to cut into parking for guests — and the town saves money by not having to provide staff to open and close the parking lot. The lot is open from dawn to dusk (generally 9 p.m. in the summertime).

The town may be automating the gate in the future. In fact, Bruce Gullifer, director of Scarborough Community Services, has requested $65,000 in the fiscal year 2017 capital equipment budget for an automatic gate system. The system would accept credit cards and not need to be manually opened and closed. A similar system may also be coming to the Hurd Park parking lot on Pine Point Beach in the future.

“We are going to have it eventually at all our beaches,” Gullifer told the Leader in April. “That is our goal.”

Despite this, Hall said a long-term lease is appropriate, at least for now.

“There are ways to get out of it should we need or want to, but for right now, it makes sense,” he said.

The Inn is currently on the market. Hall said the lease could be passed on to the new owners, with the town’s consent, if the building sells.

Termination by either the town or the Inn is possible provided a written notice by certified mail is given 90 days prior to the termination.

Town Council Vice Chairman Jean-Marie Caterina called the arrangement “a good plan for the moment.”

In March 2010 the town purchased the 1.5-acre parking lot property, as well as 10 acres of land by the Nonesuch River from the Vasile family after voters approved using $637,855 from the land bond toward the purchase. The remainder of the $1.27 million purchase price was covered by money from the Land for Maine’s Future program and $7,270 in private fundraising by the Trust for Public Land the Surfrider Foundation.

Dispatchers agree on new contract

In January, a remodeled Scarborough Public Safety Center opened to handle dispatch calls for both Scarborough and Old Orchard Beach. Last week, the dispatchers agreed to a new contract.

Scarborough’s Human Resource Director Jaclyn Mandrake said the three-year contract runs through June 30, 2018 and includes cost-of-living increases of 2 percent in year one and 2.5 percent increases in years two and three.

Councilor Ed Blaise was the only member of the Town Council who voted against approving the contract, not because he didn’t support the dispatchers, but due to his distaste for cost of living increases.

“I am certainly not against the dispatchers contract. I know it was negotiated in full faith. What I am against is costof living increases and the way they are used in contract negotiations,” Blaise said.

Not approving the contact, he said, would have been an opportunity to “change the way we deal with cost-of- living increases.” Doing so could save the town money in the future. Blaise said approximately $825,000, or 1.4 percent of the 2016 municipal net budget, came from cost of living increases.

Although other councilors did not join Blaise in rejecting the contract, they appreciated where he was coming from. Town Councilor Peter Hayes said he agrees the Town Council should “rethink” how it handles contract negotiations in the future, but felt the one before them last Wednesday was negotiated in good faith and should be approved.

“I think we went forward with this in good faith. That is a big deal and I think it needs to be honored,” Town Council Kate St. Clair said.

Vice Chairman Jean-Marie Caterina supported the new contract because the cost-of-living increases were “pretty much in line with the private sector.”

Town Councilor William Donovan said the contract is comparable to how other communities handle dispatcher contracts.

“We are in line with other communities,” he said. “I’d be interested in evaluating (Councilor Blaise’s) point in a more philosophical sense on how we negotiate, but not in this contract.”

Chairman Jessica Holbrook said she is not opposed to looking at that in the future.

Changes made to student licenses

A long-standing requirement for student shellfish licensees to perform a certain amount of conservation hours was removed by the Town Council last week to meet Department of Labor standards.

Peter Hayes, the Town Council’s liaison to the Shellfish Commission, which recommended the changes, said this summer the conservation work will be encouraged, but not mandated.

“If they want to do the conservation they can, but it is not a requirement,” he said

Residents and nonresidents and students 18 and older will be required to complete at least 12 hours of conservation projects. Individuals over the age of 60 are required to log eight hours and those over 70 are required to do four hours. Commercial license holders who complete at least 12 hours will be eligible for priority license renewal. Those who do not are put into the general license lottery.

Per the Shellfish Conservation Ordinance, conservation projects “may include seeding projects, crab projects, school projects, surveys or any other project accepted by the Shellfish Conservation Commission.”

Council Chairman Jessica Holbrook said the Department of Labor had contacted a nearby community about mandating student conservation work. Although Scarborough was not contacted directly, she said the Shellfish Commission felt it was appropriate to make such work voluntary.

– Compiled by Staff Writer Michael Kelley.

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