2018-01-12 / Community News

News Briefs

Wintry blast complicates school operations

While the arctic blast temperatures earlier this month were not welcomed by many individuals, causing some homeowners to worry about running out of heating fuel or burst pipes and some area school districts, including RSU 21(Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Arundel) and MSAD 60 (Noble) to cancel school Jan. 2 due to burst pipes and other facility issues, Todd Jepson, director of buildings, grounds and maintenance for the Scarborough school system, said Scarborough schools have fared well with the below normal temperatures.

Properly heating the schools remains a challenge even when warmer winter temperatures exist, especially in the modular classrooms at Scarborough Middle School, Eight Corners and Pleasant Hill primary schools. The consistent below-freezing temperatures at the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, has only exacerbated the concern.

“As a general rule, the largest and most numerous issues have been with the modular classrooms at three of our schools,” he wrote in an email to the Leader. “These ‘temporary’ classroom spaces each have their own heating systems, and they tend to become problems when they are aging and under such extreme demand.

We have had issues at the middle school temporary classrooms as well as Eight Corners and Pleasant Hill. These classrooms were never intended to be used as permanent classroom spaces, but some of them have been in use for nearly 20 years. As a result, their short-term systems are causing long-term problems. These temporary spaces are not insulated as well as permanent buildings either, so a lot of energy costs are wasted as a result.”

Jepson said the heating systems in the other school have only been taxed by the chronic sub-zero temperatures.

“In all, even the permanent heating systems are also challenged during extreme times, but they are designed for the extreme loads and hold up better over the long haul,” he said.

The extreme temperatures has also caused concern with bus transportation, especially with waiting for the bus in sub-zero temperatures.

Because of this, school start times were delayed two hours on Tuesday, Jan. 2, the first day back after winter vacation. Students had a full day of school Wednesday, Jan. 3, but school was canceled Thursday, Jan. 4 due to a blizzard. School was again delayed by two hours Friday, Jan. 5 to give residents and school staff time to clear out from the storm and safely get to school, which left upwards of a foot of snow in the area.

Glenn Deering Glenn Deering Deputy fire chief retires after 40 years with department

The Scarborough Fire Department started the New Year by saying goodbye to a long-time member of the force.

Deputy Fire Chief Glen Deering retired last week, after 42 years with the department, including the past 17 as a full-time staff member. Deering joined the Scarborough Fire Department in 1976 and 10 years later became captain of Engine 5/Tank 1, which is stationed at the North Scarborough Fire Station. In 1989, he was chosen to be his call company’s deputy chief and in 2000, was hired as the department’s deputy chief.

According to a post on the Scarborough Fire Department’s Facebook page, “over those many years Glen has done an extraordinary job helping to lead the department and managing several key aspects of the operations including the per-diem firefighter and student live-in programs. He has been a member of the standing truck committee for over 30 years and has been responsible for the apparatus and station maintenance programs.”

Although, Deering is retiring from his full-time position, he will serve as a call member of the North Scarborough station and will continue to work with the live-in students and serve on the truck committee.

“We joined the fire department the same year. We grew up together, went to school together and have been friends since seventh grade,” said Scarborough Fire Chief B. Michael Thurlow. “I can’t speak any more positive about his contributions he’s given to our department over the years.”

“This organization made meant a lot to him and he has served us very, very well his entire career and will continue to do so in his new role,” Thurlow added.

Members of the community were also quick to congratulate and thank Deering for his years of service.

“It’s been a pleasure working alongside you on the many projects and incidents we’ve been involved with over the years,” department member Nate Bennett wrote. “You’ve been a tremendous asset to the town of Scarborough, its tax payers, our department, as well as to many neighboring departments. Thank you for being a tremendous leader and role model for me and my coworkers.”

Ed Marks, a retired fire lieutenant in Portland, wrote he “enjoyed all of the projects we worked together on to complete especially the live-in student program and the sprinkler trailer.”

Jeff O’Donal, who owns O’Donal’s Nursery on the Gorham/ North Scarborough line, wrote Deering “will be difficult to replace and sorely missed.”

Thurlow said the position was set to be advertised this week. Until an individual can be hired, Deering’s duties will be split between Thurlow, Deputy Chief of Emergency Medical Service Tony Attardo and the call company captains.

Local business group purchases Scarborough Downs

After nearly 40 years of ownership, the Terry family has sold Scarborough Downs to Crossroads Holdings LLC, a group of local businessmen: Marc, Rocco and William Risbara, of Risbara Bros. and Peter and Richard Michaud, formerly of Michaud Distributors, a business that distributed snack foods around the region from 1980 to 2013.

The deal officially closed in early January when the 500-acres it sits on was sold to Crossroads Holdings for $6.7 million. The harness racing business was also sold for an undisclosed amount.

“This is a defining moment in Scarborough’s history,” Rocco Risbara III said in a news release announcing the sale. “We look forward to creating something that brings people together, creates economic growth and builds a sense of hometown pride.”

The harness track, which has opened in 1950, will remain in operation for the time being and the more than 60 employees at the track will retain their jobs.

The property sits in the Crossroads Planned Development District, a zoning district, which allows for a mixture of commercial, industrial, retail and residential uses. Crossroads Holdings LLC met with the long range planning committee Dec. 8 to discuss its preliminary vision for the property. A team has been formed to guide the Risbaras and Michauds through that process. That team includes former town planner Dan Bacon, now a planning project manager at Gorrill Palmer in South Portland; landscape architects Nick and Caitlin Aceto, of Aceto Landscape Architects in Portland and Mark Hampton, of Mark Hampton Associates in Portland, who will be looking into wetlands delineation. The team behind the project also includes Owen Haskell Inc. and S.W. Cole Engineering, as well as Jim Damicis, of Camoin Associates, who will be doing a market study. Drew Sigfridson, of CBRE/The Boulos Company is onboard to help with the sales, leasing and marketing of the property.

According to the release, “Crossroads Holdings LLC expects to invest more than three times the purchase price making infrastructure improvements to prepare the land for development.”

How the property is developed will be dictated not only by market demands, but also by the guidelines set out for the Crossroads Planned Development District, a zoning district established by the town council in August 2013. The district, according to the town’s zoning ordinance, “allow a mix of uses, guided by design standards and a conceptual master plan, which results in a vibrant center for development located in the heart of Scarborough.”

Bacon said the Crossroads district will makes sure the property develops into a “special place for the community,” with a mixture of uses.

According to an introduction to the project handed out at the Dec. 8 meeting, the vision is to develop much of the land into a mixed-use community with housing for a variety of ages, commercial and office development, as well as areas for entertainment, amusement and both passive and active recreation. Bacon said the property will also have a series of interconnected pedestrian-friendly streets and a greenway that could be used as a boundary between residential and commercial uses. Because the property is located in the Crossroads Planned Development District, Town Planner Jay Chace said 10 percent of the development’s housing must be affordable housing.

Risbara said at that meeting, he anticipates 300 acres of the property are developable. Full build-out, he noted, could take 15 to 20 years.

Crossroads Holdings LLC appeared before the planning board Monday to officially start the permitting and planning process.

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

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