2018-02-23 / Front Page

Audubon Center damaged

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center Director Linda Woodard said there is work, both physical and fundraising, to be done between now and May when the nature center opens for the season. The floor of the store and nature center, located on Pine Point Road, were damaged due to coastal flooding that hit the area in mid-January. Above, Scott Lindsay, a regional biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at the Gray Regional Office, mops up after the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center was flooded with 5 inches of water last month. (Michael Kelley photo/Courtesy photo) Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center Director Linda Woodard said there is work, both physical and fundraising, to be done between now and May when the nature center opens for the season. The floor of the store and nature center, located on Pine Point Road, were damaged due to coastal flooding that hit the area in mid-January. Above, Scott Lindsay, a regional biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at the Gray Regional Office, mops up after the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center was flooded with 5 inches of water last month. (Michael Kelley photo/Courtesy photo) Being as close as the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center is to the marsh certainly has the advantage of giving visitors an up close look at nature as they paddle in the river or walk along the trails, but recently marsh center director Linda Woodard learned that proximity can also have its disadvantages.

After hearing about coastal flooding in other parts of the state in mid-January, Woodard paid a visit to the center and found 5-inches of water had flooded the store, nature center and parking lot.

“This doesn’t happen very often. A lot of people notice when water gets high, but most of the time it just goes into the parking lot, not into the building,” Woodard said, adding she can only remember water getting into the building two or three times in the past 25 years. This includes in April 2007, when the parking lot and building were flooded due to the Patriots Day storm that year.

Although the center is only open from May to September, Woodard, an educator for Maine Audubon, regularly visits the center in the off-season to make sure everything is in order. There are also many other people keeping an eye on the center.

“It’s amazing. In Scarborough there’s so many people who watch out for the center. People call me all the time, but this time I went before people had called me,” she said.

After seeing the flooding, Woodard didn’t have to tackle cleanup alone. Scott Lindsay, a regional biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at the Gray Regional Office and Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center volunteer Marc Guimont, aided her in the effort. The trio mopped and swept and placed a heater in the center for two days to dry the moisture.

Woodard said in her initial estimation, the tile floor in the store will have to be replaced, but the floor in the nature center next door should be fine, but Woodard mentioned the walls in that space may need some work.

Woodard said after checking in with Maine Audubon Property Manager Peter Baecher, the cost of the damages is expected to be between $7,000 and $10,000, but could be more depending, she said, on what’s underneath the floor.

Woodard said she will get a better sense as to how much of the center was impacted when the canoes and kayaks that are stored there in the offseason are removed in April during the center’s annual spring cleanup in honor of Earth Day. This year’s cleanup, which is co-sponsored by Friends of Scarborough Marsh, is scheduled for Saturday, April 21 from 9 a.m. to noon.

“I don’t know what we will find when we get into there,” Woodard said.

There also may be damage in the new shed behind the nature center. Woodard said staff tried to store things up high and off the ground, “but I don’t know if it was high enough.”

Woodard said she went into the shed recently and "things are much worse than I thought."

"Many of the items and there are moldy and will have to be replaced," she said.

As the weather continues to warm up between now and when the center opens in May, mold will become an increasing issue.

“As spring comes and it warms up, mold will start to grow, so we will have to be careful about that and be good about airing it out,” Woodard said.

Whatever the cost of repairs is, it will likely have to be raised.

“The building is owned by the state, so technically it is not our building. They don’t really have funding for this (cleanup effort), so Maine Audubon usually has to a lot of fundraising,” she said.

The marsh center will celebrate its 45th anniversary this year and Woodard said she might need to use scheduled events as fundraisers.

Despite the setback, Woodard plans to have the center open for school programming beginning Tuesday, May 1 and have the store open by Memorial Day (Monday, May 28).

Stephanie Smith, president of Friends of Scarborough Marsh Board of Directors, said her group will soon discuss how members might be able to help.

“We are aware of the flooding. We talked with Linda Woodard, director of the center and I am sure we will be helping her in some fashion, but we haven’t discussed the details yet,” Smith said. “I am not sure if it will be a financial contribution or just labor to fix things up. Certainly we would be open to help in any way that would make sense.”

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

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