2017-12-15 / Community News

News Briefs

Town council names new leaders for 2017-2018

A month after the Nov. 7 election and with the swearing in of newly elected members and the election of chairman and vice chairman, the council has set itself up for the next year.

Bill Donovan was unanimously elected chairman of the council to take the reigns from councilor Shawn Babine.

“I have some simple goals,” Donovan said after taking the gavel. “Mostly I want to make sure all six town councilors and public are kept informed to the greatest extent possible any matter under deliberation or contemplation by this council.”

He promised “no quick gavels” for councilors or the public. Donovan previously served as council chairman from 2015 to 2016. The chairman, according to the town charter, “shall preside at the meetings of the town council, and shall be recognized as head of the town government for all ceremonial purposes, and by the governor for purposes of military law, but shall have no regular administrative duties.” The chairman does typically set the agendas for meetings with the help of the town manager and other town staff.

Chris Caiazzo was unanimously chosen as vice chairman, a largely ceremonial position that fills in when the chairman is not available. Caiazzo takes over the role from former councilor Kate St. Clair, who finished fourth in a six-way race for three council seats.

Caiazzo said he is looking forward to the next year and council members have the skill set and are “positioned to do some great things.”

Councilors’ committee assignments will be handed out soon.

Public quiet at hearing about beach parking fees

Beach parking is generally a topic of much debate for the Scarborough community, but the public hearing on several changes to beach parking fees, came and went last week with very little fanfare.

The council will convene on Dec. 20 to vote on several changes to how much the town charges for vehicles to park at Scarborough’s three beaches.

Among the proposals is upping the non-resident season beach pass from $75 to $150, the daily parking fee at Ferry, Higgins and Pine Point beaches from $10 to $15 and introducing a $5 fee to park in municipal beach parking lots between the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. to match the $5 fee for parking between 3 and 5 p.m. The beach pass for residents would continue to be $40 and free for senior citizens.

The proposal also includes increases to non-resident season boat launch pass, non-resident recreational pier use, non-resident commercial pier use, non-resident residential mooring fee and non-resident commercial mooring fee. The costs for residents in those categories will not change.

The increases were aimed at bringing Scarborough’s beach use fees more in line with those of neighboring communities.

The early morning fee and increased beach pass fee proposals, however, have caught the attention of the Maine Chapter of Surfrider Foundation, an international group that is “dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network.”

Brian Kennedy, the chapter’s volunteer chairman, said it is his group’s belief that the council doesn’t have the information it needs to make the change just yet and encouraged councilors to set up an ad hoc committee to look into the use of beach parking lots. The group is also advocating for an alternative fee structure for beach parking and would like to see a tiered fee system in which residents of the greater Portland area would pay a reduced fee to park for the day.

“The Surfrider Foundation Maine Chapter urges the council to table this proposal and form an adhoc committee with stakeholders who are invested in the town’s beach resources and community, to conduct a low/no-cost usage study to gather data on the frequency, timing, and forms of use at the relevant locations.

Surfrider has significant experience in this arena and has conducted similar studies across the U.S., including here in Maine,” Kennedy wrote in testimony to the council. “Once completed, such a study would provide the council with the ability to make evidence-based decisions on the design of any potential fee increase, formed with robust stakeholder participation and therefore, community buy-in to any such proposal. In addition, we urge the council to consider alternative designs for their seasonal passes if the proposed fee increases come to pass. Taken together, a usage study and a tiered fee structure would lead to an outcome that is fair to both the Town and the many community users of Scarborough’s beaches than the current proposal would.”

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

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