2017-05-12 / Front Page

Cool reception for Avenue 2 plan

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


A agreement with nearby property owners would mean the town would have a permanent access to the beach via an undeveloped section of Avenue 2, but several Pine Point residents have argued the town already has that right and don’t support the proposal before the council. (Courtesy image) A agreement with nearby property owners would mean the town would have a permanent access to the beach via an undeveloped section of Avenue 2, but several Pine Point residents have argued the town already has that right and don’t support the proposal before the council. (Courtesy image) For years, residents of Pine Point Beach have been pressing the town council to preserve beach access throughout the Pine Point neighborhood and feel a proposal in the works now to discontinue a 50-foot undeveloped section of Avenue 2, goes against that desire.

The proposal, which was reviewed at a May 3 town council workshop session, includes giving 25 feet of the long-standing public path to the beach to Charlie Gendron and 25 feet to the Gables by the Sea Condominium Association in exchange for a permanent easement for the public to use that area to access the beach.

The town has been looking into the issue, including the legalities of who owns the property ever since early 2016 when Gendron brought up the idea so he could re-landscape and fix up his property. Gendron has indicated his goal has never been to make the pathway private.


The town council reviewed a proposal last week that would discontinue an undeveloped 50-foot section of Avenue 2 and give 25-feet of additional property to the abutting property owners. The property has been used as a public waking path to the beach and will continue to be, if the proposal moves forward. (Courtesy image) The town council reviewed a proposal last week that would discontinue an undeveloped 50-foot section of Avenue 2 and give 25-feet of additional property to the abutting property owners. The property has been used as a public waking path to the beach and will continue to be, if the proposal moves forward. (Courtesy image) “We have never intended, nor do I intend, to prohibit public access to the beach. That was never part of any discussion with the town of Scarborough,” Gendron wrote in correspondence to the Leader. “My wife and I summer in the neighborhood, and not only do we believe the public should be allowed to continue using the Avenue 2 land to access the beach, we also have offered to improve the walking path’s aesthetics, safety, and function as part of our proposal.”

In exchange for the land, the town would get an easement in perpetuity.

“You aren’t going to (discontinue the road) without getting something in return and that something in return is getting a public easement granted by Mr. Gendron and the Gables condo association,” said Town Attorney Durward Parkinson, who looked into the history of the property to help the town council determine what rights the town has regarding the land.

Parkinson said since the agreement is tied to the property, “future owners would be under the obligation of maintaining access and keeping up the landscaping.”

The plan, if accepted by the town council, includes slightly changing the layout of the path and improving landscaping between the path and Gendron’s property.

“The species we plan to use in the landscaping have been chosen specifically for their compatibility with the natural beach environment, and do not include any exotic or showy species that would feel out of touch with the Pine Point atmosphere,” Gendron wrote. “The improved path would follow a straight, unencumbered route, making it easier and safer to access the beach, particularly at night. We have also agreed to language in the deed that would preserve (the) town’s right to travel the path in ATV-type emergency vehicles to reach people needing help on the beach.”

Many members of the Pine Point community at last week’s workshop on the topic urged the council not to accept the proposal, arguing the public already has the right to use the land to access the beach and does not need to enter into such an agreement.

Councilor Kate St. Clair saw it the same way.

“You said we aren’t losing anything and we are getting access,” St. Clair said referencing Parkinson’s earlier comment. “We already had access to this land.”

“When I look at this and the documents I see, what we are doing is taking away from the people who live in this area,” she continued to applause from the crowd.

While that may be the case, the agreement would put into writing that access.

“The difference is this takes away any ambiguity related that that,” Town Manager Tom Hall said.

“If we have an agreement that guarantees (beach access) forever, I fail to see where this issue is,” said councilor Chris Caiazzo. Councilor Katy Foley said she couldn’t support the proposal as it is, especially with a number of “details that need to be worked out.”

“I don’t ever think it is right for the town to give up its rights unless it is getting something of equal or greater value back,” she said.

Councilor Peter Hayes also needs more time to figure out the best option for the town.

“I heard some things tonight that made me more uncomfortable than before,” he said at the town council meeting that followed the workshop.

Council Chairman Shawn Babine, no stranger of discontinuances of roadways in Pine Point having been on the council for the discontinuances of Avenues 5,6, and 7, wondered what message discontinuing Avenue 2 would send.

“If we do this, what precedent does it set for other paper streets down there,” he asked.

Parkinson said matters such as discontinuing so called paper streets are generally dealt with on a “case by case basis.”

Not all in attendance were against the proposed agreement. Dorothy Hoy, who lives on the corner of Avenue 1 and King Street, supports the idea.

“Mr. Gendron is proposing the same footpath. I don’t want to see the town spend tax dollars bringing this to court,” Hoy said. “Mr. Gendron is being more than fair.”

Former town councilor Jean-Marie Caterina, who was on the council when the topic was first brought to light, said the proposal was “a pretty good solution.”

Phil Reed, a resident of Lane by the Sea, has not been impressed with how the situation has been handled by the town.

“We expect the town to support us in our pursuit of our rights, not abandon us,” he said. “How can we defend against big money.”

Mo Erickson, of Pine Point Road, said the deal is all but finalized and town councilors have already made up their minds to take the deal despite the opposition they have heard from beach residents.

“The new mantra for Scarborough should be ‘it’s a done deal.’ You never ever, ever, ever seem to listen to the people,” Erickson said, begging the town council to “not give the piece of land away.”

Susan Hamill, of Bay Street, didn’t understand what the town was really getting out of the deal.

“With the negotiations and talks, what did we get?” she asked. “I don’t see the town came close to getting more. We are giving everything away.

Although Erickson felt the issue was all but decided, the town council is planning another workshop on the topic on Wednesday, May 17. A public hearing is slated for June. Action could take place as early as July, but due to the council’s summer schedule in which meetings are held once a month in July and August, action could be pushed back later in the summer.

Genevieve Johnson, a Black Point Road resident, whose grandparents built the 37 King Street home the Gendrons live in, urged the council to “be very thoughtful as you moved forward with this.”

John Thurlow, of King Street, implored the council to slow the process down. “In terms of slowing down the process, we have an obligation to act. That’s what we are elected to do. We are not fast tracking this. We had a number of meetings (on the topic),” Caiazzo said.

The May 3 workshop just featured town councilors. Parkinson and John Bannon, the attorney representing Mr. Gendron.

The attorney for Gables by the Sea was not at the meeting. Residents hope Ben Leoni, a land use attorney with Curtis Thaxter Attorneys, who several Pine Point residents hired to act on their behalf, will have a seat at the June workshop, but the council, as of last week, was undecided on the request.

Leoni said his clients want representation at the table not to start a legal battle over beach access, but rather to have some of their concerns with the easement aired.

St. Clair was amenable to having Leoni at the table because he represents people that are “passionate” about the issue, but Caiazzo and Babine were hesitant to do so.

“I don’t think simply having an attorney automatically guarantees (a seat at the workshop table). I am cautious about that,” Babine said.

He added he would be able to having Leoni at the table only as long as the workshop session was a “productive and constructive” process.

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

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