2016-02-12 / Front Page

Town may opt to roll up ‘paper street’

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

For the third time in the last decade, the town may officially discontinue a street at Pine Point that never existed and most likely never will.

The town council held a workshop last week to review King Street resident Charlie Gendron’s proposal to discontinue the section of Avenue 2 between King Street and the ocean that runs past his home. The property is a paper street that is used as a walking path to Pine Point Beach. The town issued similar discontinuances on Avenue 5 in 2006 and Avenue 6 in 2007.

“I don’t envision it to be used as a roadway. It certainly provides critical access to the beach,” Town Manager Tom Hall said.

“We want to clear it up because paper streets are one of those things that have been argued over in many towns,” said Johan Buisman, vice president of surveying at Northeast Civil Solutions.

Paper streets are streets that appear on maps, but have not, for whatever reason, been constructed or officially accepted by a town or city. Durward Parkinson, an attorney with Bergen Parkinson, a law firm in Kennebunk and Saco, was asked by former Town Engineer Jim Wendel to review the legal status of Avenue 2, and indicated the property in question appeared on an 1888 subdivision plan and 1950 plan to construct Pillsbury Drive, but it “is not sufficiently clear” if the town ever accepted it as a public roadway.

In the 1970s, the state asked municipalities to discontinue all paper streets by the 1990s. It seems in this case Scarborough never took affirmative action to discontinue Avenue 2.

The discontinuation, Buisman said, would allow Gendron to update his home in the future and officially establish a public easement for beach access. Buisman said as of today the easement is by practice at best. Officially discontinuing the road would cede 25 feet of the 50-foot property to Gendron and 25 feet to the neighboring condo association, which Buisman said is “well aware of the proposal.”

“For the record Charlie is not interested in cutting off access to the public, as he currently lives in the neighborhood and has no issues with the access that exists today,” Northeast Civil Solutions President Jim Fisher wrote in a Jan. 28 letter to Hall. “He would like to clarify ownership since his house is in very close proximity to this paper street, and envisions a day in the near future when he decides to fix up the house and landscaping.”

Town Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina wondered if the town has any use for the property other than as a footpath to the beach. Hall said any other use is unlikely.

“I don’t see what public purpose there would be to construct a public street whatsoever in my opinion,” he said.

Vice Chairman Shawn Babine, who was on the council for the other two discontinuances, supports making the change.

“I am definitely in favor of this because it is the right thing to do,” he said.

Before that decision is made, however, he wants to make sure the police and fire departments wouldn’t need the property as an access point for emergency response to the beach.

Other councilors also wanted to put on the brakes before putting it on the council agenda for a decision. Councilor Peter Hayes wondered if there may be other residents coming forward with similar requests.

“Before we make any decision, I would like to understand the scope because this is precedent setting,” he said.

Similarly Councilor Chris Caiazzo said he would like legal counsel to review the situation to see if the town’s ability for action has expired.

“Let’s do the legwork, see what our options are and have it be the subject of another workshop,” said Council Chairman Bill Donovan.

Susan Hamill, a resident of Pine Point, said she is “very concerned” about the discontinuance of Avenue 2.

“If it comes down to the town still owning it and should we decide we don’t want it, let’s sell it for fair market value,” Hamill told councilors.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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