Wednesday, October 31, 2001

OSA becomes ManageSoft

Published in Interface Tech News

NASHUA, N.H. ‹ Open Software Associates changed its name to ManageSoft Corporation on Oct. 1 in an effort to clarify its brand and message. The move was underscored by the renaming of the company's flagship NetDeploy Global product‹ now ManageSoft version 6.0 ‹ the major change of which is in the name.

Bob Thaler, director of product marketing, said the decision stemmed from market research that produced disappointing results.

"We found that we were limited in our marketing reach," Thaler said. "We needed to develop a name and brand that was more closely related to what we do."

With the help of branding consultant Jack Trout, who heads up Old Greenwich, Conn.-based Trout & Partners, the company chose a new name, to showcase its focus on software management and deployment.

While the names have changed, not much about the product or the company is new, Thaler said. The software employs the metaphor of a warehouse for software, showing users that there are receiving, inventory, picking, and shipping aspects to the program.

"It is a place where a customer does everything they need to do," he said, pointing out that the system can be set to deploy software over a network to remote users whenever they are connected. This allows reliable updating of laptops, as well as desktop machines, according to Thaler.

Neal Goldman, a research director at the Boston-based Yankee Group, said the product doesn't seem to have any major improvements over its competition. He said there are existing software-audit programs and those that deploy software, but they are largely independent and used in that way.

"Not everybody has both (systems)," Goldman said, although he liked the warehouse model for its possibilities. "If you could actually return stuff to the warehouse (that would be new)," he added.

According to Goldman, the market for this type of software is not large. "It's never been a huge market in terms of absolute dollars," he explained. Software auditing is less than a $400 million business, and other aspects of the ManageSoft software are included in larger systems-management packages like OpenView, he said.

Sycamore aims to buoy sales with Insight launch

Published in Interface Tech News

CHELMSFORD, Mass. ‹ In a bid to keep customers buying during a time of declining capital expenditures, Sycamore Networks released in early October its SILVX InSight product, which integrates planning, design, and testing for optical networks.

InSight was designed to work with Sycamore's existing network management system, SILVX NMS, to take an inventory of existing network infrastructure, and propose upgrades and equipment purchases to improve the efficiency of carrier networks.

"It's a simulated network," said Wade Rubinstein, Sycamore's director of professional services. "It's much cheaper to put this software on a PC than to buy another switch."

The key to InSight, according to company officials, is a database that includes specifications on networking hardware, permitting capacity planning and load simulation, as well as cost-benefit analysis and testing prior to purchase.

Analyst Maribel Dolinov of Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, said the database could be hard to keep updated. "You can't just call up a company and ask for its specs," she said.

With monthly updates to its database, Sycamore said it will be able to keep current, enabling the linking and design possibilities the company identified as its target service.

"We want to enhance productivity and help the next generation of intelligent optical networks," Rubinstein said.

The driving force behind the product's release, is a good idea, Dolinov said. Across the networking industry, she said, "sales are becoming much more complex." Not only are orders smaller and more specific, but they're reducing in volume and dollar amounts, she added.

In Dolinov's view, another specter looming on the horizon for optical networking is a revelation like the recent one from Qwest, stating that it is finished building its network.

"That's a scary sort of thing for an equipment provider," Dolinov said. Further, she continued, if a supplier is feeling a crunch from one customer, it's hard to make up the difference in new business right now.

"At the end of the day," Dolinov said, "tools are still pretty company specific."

Monday, October 29, 2001

MerryGo borrows P2P name for Internet timeshare exchange

Published in Interface Tech News

MANCHESTER, N.H. ‹ MerryGo launched its new Web site in late September. It will use a peer-to-peer (P2P) method, permitting owners of timeshare properties to deal directly with each other, rather than going through a difficult-to-use central clearinghouse system which is not available on the Internet.

MerryGo is not harnessing the power of computers, but the power of individuals, and is providing central-server traffic direction on its Web site.

The standard timeshare exchange process involves a large group of people, each of whom has an asset: a week of time at a timeshare resort property. Those people pay annual membership fees to resorts and to associations that permit them to exchange their time at one location for someone else's time at another spot.

At present, that process is complex and overly centralized, said Forrest Milkowski, company co-founder and executive vice president for sales and marketing at MerryGo. "We're going to change the way the timeshare industry works," Milkowski said.

That's a big statement for a two-person company targeting the $1.5 billion timeshare exchange sector, but mirrors the changes P2P technology has threatened in the music industry via sites like Napster.

MerryGo's service involves one-to-one trading, with owners posting properties on MerryGo's searchable site. When they find an interesting property, prospective exchangers can e-mail the timeshare owners directly.

Milkowski said this way is not only cheaper, with fees based on transactions rather than annual memberships, but more personal. "I can actually contact the person who owns the property," he said.

This permits travel tips to be passed on from person to person, including which restaurants are the nicest or directions to a pleasant picnic spot. Milkowski said MerryGo's method takes the information out of the hands of a telephone representative for a large company and puts it into the hands of timeshare owners and exchangers.

The company is also partnering with major timeshare resort companies to offer discounts for vacationers exchanging within one company's properties, rather than seeking out other destinations. Although Milkowski said MerryGo Web site visitors would be free to choose any location that fits their needs.

Thursday, October 25, 2001

Things that go bump in the night

Published in the Current

Scarborough’s Black Point Inn plays host not only to visitors from out of state, but from the realm of the paranormal, employees say.

The hotel, the last of close to a dozen of the original inns in Prouts Neck, has a lot of ghost stories surrounding it, according to housekeeping supervisor Angel Bechtold.

One recounts that a kitchen worker lived in the employees’ dormitory above the barn, now the garage. When the man’s fiancĂ©e broke up with him, he hanged himself. Now his spirit, Bechtold said, haunts the room he lived in.

“I have lived in that dorm and have felt things in the dorm, right beneath the widow’s walk,” she said.

While living there, she said, she would make her bed in the morning and come back to find it unmade after work. Smaller items, like a hairbrush, would be moved around, too.

“It’s pretty haunted,” Bechtold said.

She said she has experienced various presences in the inn and its outbuildings, but mostly during the winter when fewer people are around. At busier times, she said, taking care of guests distracts her from any ghosts which may be around.

She said she has never felt unsafe in the inn, but has been unsettled a few times.

“It’s like a creepy feeling, but nothing scary,” Bechtold said. “Walking through you can get really creeped out.”

Because the inn is so old, she said, it is more likely to have ghosts in it.

One housekeeper, Bechtold said, hears whispers and a cat meowing in the attic, which is used as a storage area.

Several small children have talked of ghosts when on the third floor of the main building, she said, including the young child of an employee, barely able to talk, who pointed up at the widow’s walk and said “ghost.”

Whether it’s because of battles between whites and Native Americans in the 18th century, or ghosts from the area’s other hotels needing a new home after those inns were torn down, or events at the Black Point Inn itself, Bechtold said there’s something there, but only for those who believe in ghosts.

She said she knows people who do not believe in ghosts and they haven’t seen or heard anything they can’t explain.

“I think if you believe, it’s really there,” Bechtold said.

Cape Elizabeth is also home to a haunted house, the Gothic-style Beckett’s Castle, at 7 Singles Road.

Built from 1871 to 1874 by publisher Sylvester Beckett, the house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but not for being haunted.

Indeed, the current owner, Nancey Harvey, said, “The previous owners said it was haunted, but (the ghosts) have gone away with me.”

But if it is no longer haunted by ghosts, the house is perhaps haunted by its own former haunting. Harvey said she gets frequent calls inquiring about the house being haunted.

The ghosts which previously inhabited the house were said to be Beckett himself and possibly a child. Among their antics were creating cold spots in the house, removing sheets and blankets from beds, moving paintings and never allowing one door to remain closed, even when nailed shut.

Beckett built the house largely with his own hands, according to the building’s listing in the National Register, from local fieldstone. Its trademark feature is a three-story tower in the southeast corner of the building. It is a four-bedroom house with a parlor, dining room and kitchen. The house has a number of diamond-shaped and triangular windows.

Police have plan for dealing with anthrax

Published in the Current

Scarborough’s police and fire departments have dealt with several suspicious packages in town, and though they have not yet encountered anthrax spores, they are ready.

In the past two weeks, as anthrax scares have occurred in Westbrook and Portland, four suspicious packages or envelopes have arrived in the mail at Scarborough addresses, including Town Hall. None of them actually contained hazardous material, said Police Chief Robert Moulton.

Cape Elizabeth Police Chief Neil Williams said only one suspicious letter has been reported to his department. It turned out to be a thank-you note from a local resident. Another situation in which a postal carrier was concerned about a skin condition turned out to be a damp magazine cover that rubbed against his arm and shredded, Williams said.

He said the police will typically respond first to a report of suspicious mail, “to determine why it’s suspicious.” A contaminated package or area would be dealt with by the town’s fire department, Williams said.

People should respond differently to this new type of threat, Scarborough Chief Moulton said. It’s a big change from the “pull the fire alarm and leave” response people have traditionally had to an emergency.

Instead of evacuating a building that could be contaminated, Moulton said, the procedure should be to isolate the people within the area.

“You go to a lockdown state, when everybody stays where they’re at.”

While it could be hard on people who are quarantined and for their loved ones, who may want to see them, Moulton said the isolation of possibly-exposed people is to prevent the spread of any contaminant and does not pose a risk to those isolated.

“You’ve either been exposed or you haven’t,” he said. But a contaminant on someone’s clothing could be spread if the person evacuated the building and came in contact with other people.

Once a substance or package has been identified, Moulton said, it will be contained and removed by the police or firefighters.

In the case of the Town Hall package, it was still sealed and not leaking. It was suspicious, however, because it was sent from India with excessive postage and was about the size of a hardback book.

The police evidence technician went to Town Hall, Moulton said, and sealed the package in several layers of plastic before coming back to the police station, where it was examined in a contained environment.

The Town Hall packet was found to be from a civil engineer in India looking for business.

“It was junk mail, basically,” Moulton said.

When a package is opened or if a substance escapes from it, the incident would be treated as a hazardous materials event, Moulton said. Firefighters would show up in protective gear to contain the substance and collect it.

If a powder or residue needs analysis, Moulton said, it would be contained in several layers of plastic and sealed in a canister before being taken to the Maine State Police lab in Augusta. It would be taken in a town police car, which could use its lights and sirens along the way, Moulton said.

When you encounter a suspect package or letter, Moulton said, leave it alone and call 911. The dispatcher will ask you a series of questions to help determine the appropriate response. Among those questions will be: Is the package opened? What kind of area is it in? Is anything leaking or protruding from it? Is it irregularly

Depending on the answers to those and other questions, the police and fire department will respond with appropriate personnel and equipment, Moulton said.

The most important thing to remember is after you call 911, don’t evacuate, but instead stay put until authorities say it is OK to leave. This is counter to fire-safety training, and even the opposite of the normal response to a bomb threat, Moulton admitted, but he said it is a very different sort of threat.

“It’s a different mindset than we’ve been used to,” he said.

Friday, October 19, 2001

Lucent slashes staff in survival play

Published in Interface Tech News

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. ‹ Lucent Technologies cut nearly 1,000 job at its Merrimack Valley Works plant in a recent effort to save itself. The cuts were part of a 50 percent job reduction effort at Lucent, resulting from reduced revenue and changing customer demands.

The company-wide cutbacks will reduce the Lucent workforce from 123,000 at the beginning of 2001 to about 60,000 at the end of 2002, the company said. The Merrimack Valley plant's employment will drop from 3,750 to 2,800, said Lucent spokeswoman Mary Ward, who would not give a time frame for coming reductions.

"We're always reviewing what we need in terms of staffing levels," she said. Now that Lucent is moving toward outsourcing tasks, she said, jobs in the company have to go.

"(The reduction is) a response to the new business model of using outside contractors," Ward said. "Most of it is in response to the current market conditions."

Those conditions, according to Forrester Research analyst Maribel Dolinov, are difficult.

While many carrier companies are publicly saying they are moving from circuit-switching to packet-switching, those same companies had been placing sizable orders for circuit-based equipment. Now the carriers are cutting back their purchases of older technology, leaving companies like Lucent trying to bridge the gap while dealing with reduced revenue.

Lucent said it is working hard to continue its relationships with carriers. "We're doing whatever we can to help our customers," Ward said.

Dolinov said Lucent might be handicapped by the sense that the company is in bad shape.

"A lot of the good folks have gone out with the natural brain drain (that follows job reductions)", Dolinov said.

But those with good ideas don't have anywhere to go, with Nortel also laying off and start-ups experiencing financial droughts. In some cases, Dolinov said, laying low might be the best course of action. "You might as well just stay at Lucent and try and make it happen," she said.

The next six to eight months will show whether Lucent and its competitors will be successful, Dolinov said, and it could take longer than that for real results to appear. Lucent itself said it doesn't expect to see profits until fiscal 2003.

Thursday, October 18, 2001

Sunrise launches new marketing push

Published in Interface Tech News

MANCHESTER, N.H. ‹ In its first big self-promotion move, 10-year-old design engineering services firm Sunrise Labs is gearing up to unveil its new facility on Oct. 19. The company moved from the Ammon Center at the Manchester airport to Auburn, N.H.'s Wellington Business Park.

"This is really our first foray into marketing," said John MacGilvary, Sunrise's vice president of sales and marketing. The grand opening will give the company a chance to woo existing clients and prospects, in a bid to continue its rapid growth.

The privately held company has been growing about 40 percent per year, and needs the new space to continue expanding its workforce apace, according to MacGilvary. Sunrise Labs presently employs 35 people in the new facility ‹ occupied in January and now "fully ramped up," he said.

In 1999, the company won a "Decade of Design" award from Businessweek magazine for its part in designing an electronic voting machine accessible to people in wheelchairs. The machine, first sold in 1990, is now standard equipment at polling places, according to Businessweek.

MacGilvary said that was just one example of the company's design capabilities. Targeting customers in mature industries, Sunrise Labs has also built valves, valve actuators, and software valve controls for industrial applications, and is now working on the next generation of controllers for mammography equipment, he said.

With many companies working to reduce the cost of goods and moving toward more efficient design, the company said it is doing well, even in the economic downturn.

"Companies are using this time to regroup," MacGilvary said, which means more business for Sunrise Labs. He added that many of the company's clients say they outsource a lot of business, with mixed results, but often say Sunrise Labs exceeds expectations.

The company is seeing some effects from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, as well, MacGilvary said. Companies that had been moderately interested in security and military applications for some of Sunrise Labs' work have increased orders, in some cases, doubling them. The company thought interest had spiked in June, MacGilvary said, but "now it's really taking shape."

Cape students adopt service members

Published in the Current

A group of eighth graders at Cape Elizabeth Middle School has adopted recent Cape high school graduate Pvt. Brendan Sweeney of the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, N.C. The students will be writing him letters to help keep his morale up during the war on terrorism.

Sweeney visited the middle school while home on a recent leave, and found the students’ reception warm and welcoming.

The students are in teacher Rachel Guthrie’s advisory group.

“They were so kind to him, so concerned,” said his father, Kevin, a member of the town’s School Board.

The advisory group and other middle school students have organized car washes to raise money for the American Red Cross, raising over $1,000, which has been matched by the school’s student council for a total donation nearing $3,000, the students said.

Kevin Sweeney is compiling a list of Cape residents who are serving in the military, so students will be able to adopt them as well. He said each member of the uniformed services is important, whether they serve in the U.S., or bases around the world, or are personally involved in fighting.

“Whether or not they wind up in a combat zone is irrelevant,” Sweeney said.

He said the list now includes eight people serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, who have a Cape connection.

Either they grew up in town or have a direct Cape connection, Sweeney
said. He also said he knows of three others and is working to get permission from their families to give out their addresses to adopters.

The middle school also has a bulletin board with pictures of the people on the list, in uniform and in some cases as they appeared while in school in Cape Elizabeth.

Sweeney said supporting members of the armed forces is an important activity for all students to engage in.

“I want every school in Maine to do this,” he said.

Thursday, October 11, 2001

Cape School Board gets test results

Published in the Current

The Cape Elizabeth School Board heard the town’s schools are ahead of state averages across the board, but the schools’ principals see room for continued improvement in performance on the Maine Educational Assessment test.

The results are of last year’s MEA tests, taken by students in fourth, eighth and eleventh grade. All of the principals said it is a flawed test and can raise more questions than it answers, but acknowledged its standardization across time and across the state makes it a useful evaluation tool.

Tom Eismeier, principal of Pond Cove Elementary School, said the school needs to work on its science curriculum, but was pleased with the results of students’math
scores. He said the school teaches test savvy as well as material specifically on the test.

Eismeier said 75 percent of the students are reading at or above grade level, and most of the rest of the students are near the standards and do not fall into the category labeled “does not meet standards.”

Jeff Shedd, principal at the high school, said data for specific other schools might be more helpful than the statewide average data supplied with the test results.

Shedd said the school’s difficulties in science are a result of time constraints on teaching material, but may also indicate an increased need for lab time in science courses. The slow decline in math scores, Shedd said, while still above the state average, is due to what he called “a demographic fluke,” rather than any problem with the curriculum.

He was concerned about meeting the needs of students who do not meet standards in one or more of the areas examined by the test, and said he would like to investigate adding programs for that portion of the student body.

Middle school principal Nancy Hutton said her students have been having problems with justifying answers in science, though they often know the correct answer. She also said the science curriculum covers some topics in fifth grade on which students are tested in fourth grade.

In other business, the school board:
-Heard from the high school student representatives about the stink-bomb detonated at the high school’s homecoming dance.
-Heard from the middle school student representatives that fifth and sixth grade students will be taking field trips in the area soon, and that the middle school’s gift
wrap sale is complete.
-Received a report from Superintendent Tom Forcella that the music department was invited to participate in the Grammy Foundation program for 2002; the Cape Elizabeth Education Foundation will look at a fundraising campaign to establish an endowment.
-Approved a list of 19 people to serve on the building/renovation project committee, including members of the School Board and Town Council, school administrators, community representatives, teachers, the athletic director and three parents.
-Heard that School Board member Kevin Sweeney’s son Brendan was enthusiastically
greeted at the middle school last week while on leave from the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, N.C.
-Learned the exchange trip to France planned by teacher David Peary will be cancelled due to lack of a participating school in France.
-Approved, with the condition that the State Department’s travel guidelines be adhered to, an exchange program with a school in Costa Rica which will bring 16 Costa Rican students and two teachers to Cape in January and send 12 Cape students to Costa Rica in April. The board said they wanted a report from the students in the program, led by teacher Mark Pendarvis, when they returned.

The next school board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13 in the Council Chambers in town hall.

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Global-Z returns to Bennington with expansion plans

Published in Interface Tech News

MANCHESTER CENTER, Vt. ‹ Data processing company Global-Z is relocating for the second time in five years, returning to nearby Bennington, where the company was founded in 1989. The company is expanding to meet demand for direct-mail advertising in Asia, and expects to triple its payroll within five years.

The company is finishing financial arrangements for purchasing land and building a 5,000 square foot facility in Bennington. It expects to be in its new home by March 2002.

"Bennington is really hungry for new business," said company co-founder and vice president of operations Dimitri Garder. "A lot of the legwork is being done for us."

Several state, county, and municipal programs are working together to help the company remain in Bennington County and form part of what Garder hopes will be a critical mass of area technology businesses.

"If Bennington can promote themselves as really advantageous to high-tech business, we'd love to be a part of that," Garder said.

Global-Z began as a database consulting firm. Its clients ran into trouble when entering international addresses into databases that were expecting U.S.-style address formats.

In 1993, Garder said, the company began processing international address data for marketers. The benefit for the customers, Garder said, is fewer duplicates, faster delivery, and fewer pieces of returned mail. "It improves the deliverability of the mail piece," he said.

One of the company's employees works in Beijing, opening up services with Asian clients and working with the region's postal services. Global-Z has offered services in Japan for two years, and the next few countries to see Global-Z services, according to Garder, will be Taiwan, South Korea, and Thailand.

Guy Creese, research director at the Aberdeen Group, said there are big bucks in international direct mailing and address handling.

"That's quite a brisk business," he said.

There is room for improvement in addressing, Creese said, noting that even small improvements can have significant payoffs.

"If you can improve addresses by two percent, and you have a million addresses, that's big," he said.

The U.S. direct-mail market is saturated, Creese said, leading many companies, especially multi-nationals, to seek abroad the levels of success they have had with U.S. campaigns.

"The business demand for this is growing," he said.

Global-Z, planning to follow the trend in its sector, expects to add 35 jobs within the next five years, and offer training and internships collaboration with programs at Mt. Anthony Union High School's career center and Bennington College's foreign-language programs.

Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Centra takes e-learning offering to China

Published in Interface Tech News

LEXINGTON, Mass. ‹ E-learning software firm Centra has signed a deal with New Modern Technology (NMT), based in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China, under which NMT will be Centra's distributor in China.

Centra has worked with a Japanese distributor for its eLearning framework for two years, and has several customers in that country.

In the past year, the company has expanded to serve Australia, Singapore, and India, adding Taiwan, China, and Korea in the past six months, according to Chris Reed, the company's vice president of corporate strategy.

"You really have to start in Japan," Reed said. Expansion to Australia, Singapore, and India often follow, he said.

With the new partnership, NMT will undertake the Chinese localization and marketing of Centra's software, which permits live interaction with an instructor via the Internet using video cameras, voice over IP, electronic whiteboards, and other tools.

Reed said the early adopters of this type of training platform are multi-national corporations, who are frustrated by delays between product launches in the U.S. and training for Asian offices, which often occur several months later.

Reed described Centra's platform as a "control panel around a content window," which allows multiple teaching tools to be used as part of a training session. Reed said this offers value and depth of understanding.

"The most effective learning experiences are a combination of these learning methods," he said.

Market research agrees. In August 2000, Forrester Research published a report entitled "Online Training Needs A New Course." The report indicated not only that lack of interactivity was the key obstacle to online learning, but that trainee resistance is the next largest problem.

Reed said Centra gets around these problems by offering lots of interactivity and with a simple analogy: "a class over the Internet."

Reed said people already have a sense of what a class entails and what it should be like. Centra's software, he said, gives them this without forcing companies to fly trainers all over the world, exhausting the people and the training budget.

With a distributor in China, Reed said, the company has an agent committed to a couple of years of market building, leaving Centra itself to continue working on its software and on other expansions.

Friday, October 5, 2001

$15 million to advance NetNumber's VoIP plans

Published in Interface Tech News

LOWELL, Mass. ‹ NetNumber recently drew a $15 million infusion from Mountain View, Calif.-based VeriSign and Science Applications International Corporation's venture capital subsidiary, SAIC Venture Capital Corp., located in Las Vegas, Nev.

NetNumber is betting the injection of cash will enable continued expansion of its e-numbering services for voice-over-IP (VoIP) providers.

E-numbering translates international-standard phone numbers into IP addresses for connecting with IP phones, according to NetNumber CEO Glenn Marschel. He said the company will use the money for general operations and expansion of its marketing efforts.

At present, the company has one client, Webley Communications of Deerfield, Ill., and between 12 and 20 companies working to incorporate NetNumber's products, Marschel said.

An IDC report in late August stated that the recent economic downturn will "slow but not stall" the trend toward adopting VoIP technology. The report confirmed that several companies in the VoIP sector have also received additional rounds of venture capital funding.

Marschel said VeriSign and Science Applications had previously announced their intentions to compete with one another. He attributed the new collaboration to the firms' work together on standards and regulatory issues.

Thursday, October 4, 2001

New home for Cape Police takes shape

Published in the Current

The Cape Elizabeth Police Department’s new home is taking shape and should be enclosed by winter, Chief Neil Williams said.

The new building, on the site of the old police and fire station on Ocean House Road in the town center, will have 9,300 square feet of space. That is roughly the same
size as the old building, but with the fire department in its new station across Jordan Way, “We’re going to have it all to ourselves,” Williams said.

Williams said the decision to build a new station, rather than renovate the old one, was a matter of bringing that structure into compliance with current building codes, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“The corridors and ramps that they were going to have to put in were going to need a lot more space,” Williams said.

The town invited bids to raze the police station, and build a new fire station and a new police station, as one project, for a total of $2.5 million, Williams said.

The new station will not only be built on one level for easy access, but also will have an appealing entrance area, including a small courtyard between the road and the building.

“It’s going to be more customer service focused,” Williams said, describing the dispatch area, with its split desk so people entering the station can speak face-to-face with a dispatcher or other officer.

The officers also will have better space, with stronger security and more computers and office space, as well as better space for processing witnesses and suspects.

“We will have a larger hold-down area,” Williams said.

Other amenities will make the building more welcoming to officers and members of the public alike, Williams said. The building will be air-conditioned, and there will be a conference room for police meetings as well as community use.

“We’re all looking forward to it,” Williams said.

The Cape police department also is working with the FBI, as are most U.S. police departments, to investigate the events leading up to the attacks on Sept. 11 in New York and Washington, D.C. Williams said.

Villages of Scarborough: Pine Point - Village by the sea weathers change

Published in the Current

Pine Point is a village in balance, filled with the quiet tension between the land and the sea, inhabited by people who come and go with the tides and the seasons.

Lobstering and clamming have long been livelihoods in Pine Point. But for 120 years, tourism has been the business to be in, if you live in the Point. And now that’s changing too, as houses are rebuilt or winterized, ready for year-round residents.

And still, they that go down to the sea in boats are all around Pine Point. They’re a quiet lot, prone to pointing at their friends when you ask a question, but they’re personable enough, even friendly, if you aren’t too obvious about being from away.

Most of today’s lobstermen don’t live in Pine Point, though their forefathers, and even their fathers, did.

It has become “a nice place to live,” and property values are through the roof.

“They priced us out of here,” said lobsterman Robbie Lothrop. Born and brought up on the sandbar called Pine Point, he now lives “on the hill,” across the mouth of Jones Creek, and rents his house out on the Point.

His 50-by-70-foot lot, where the house takes up nearly all the land, has some pretty steep property taxes, he said. “The taxes on that are three grand.”

His Cape-style house on three-quarters of an acre on the hill has just about the same taxes. Many lobstermen have found the same situation.

“Most of us are up on the hill,” Lothrop said. He doesn’t think there are any working lobstermen who still live on the Point.

In his 57 years, 40 of which he has spent lobstering, he has seen a lot of changes. He points at a parking lot filled with sea gulls and a row of houses behind them.

“That was all sand dunes,” he said, remembering the ditches he and his friends used to play in among the sandy hillocks where the lot is now. Drawing a big circle with his hands, he shows where a tide pool once was.

Wind can’t blow people away
Bill Bayley is another Pine Point resident, who has been, he said, “lucky enough to get to stay” as many of his neighbors left for more affordable areas. He is the third generation of his family to run Bayley’s Lobster Pound, and his daughter works with him.

“We’ve been selling seafood on this location — the same family — for 86 or 87 years,” he said.

His grandfather came to Pine Point in 1915 with his wife and infant son, Bill’s father. The young family had been looking for a place to settle near the sea. From the train, Bill’s grandfather saw the spit of land and decided to live there.

Back then, it wasn’t the nice place to live it has become. Separated from the mainland by the marsh and the creek until the 1880s, it wasn’t exactly prime real estate even in the early 20th century . When the trains came by in the 1850s, the railroad company had to build a road out to the Point. Almost immediately it became a summer resort. But people who spent the winter were still scarce.

The wind was the problem. Ripping out of the north in winter, it was known to tear roofs apart and make life generally miserable. The wind hasn’t changed, but people now stay the winter with better shelter, Bayley said.

“They didn’t have the types of houses they have now,” he said. But the wind still blows, and though the year-rounders love the summer, Bayley said, “We pay for it in the winter.”

Bayley had thought his third-generation link was as far back as his family went in Pine Point, but when looking over old photos and family records, he learned that his grandfather’s grandfather was from Pine Point, and had lived right in the house still standing next door to the Lobster Pound.

It was a surprise to Bayley: “One of the first houses built down here is right in the parking lot.”

Bayley, like Lothrop, said economics have played a role in changing the community.

“A lot of the people that were native to this place have had to leave,” Bayley said, citing costs of housing and property taxes. But now the seasonal folks are staying longer and even moving to the Point.

“It’s not so much summer people,” Bayley said. And even the summer influx is different from the seasonal invasions other Maine coastal communities see.

“A lot of our folks aren’t quite tourists,” Bayley said. “Families have been coming here for generations and generations, and not just one or two.”

“New arrivals” not new
Mary Boutin is one of those seasonal visitors. She’s been coming to the Point since she was six months old; she’s now in her early 80s and lives both in Pine Point — Pillsbury Shores, to be exact — and in Lewiston.

The Pillsbury Shores neighborhood is friendly and low-key, too, but since homes were built on sea grass, there have been changes, too.

The days of unlocked doors, while mostly over, aren’t too far gone.

“Everybody has a key to everybody else’s house,” Boutin said. “It’s very close-knit down here.”

Talking to folks in Pine Point, whether they’re life-long residents, seasonal visitors or relative newcomers, it’s clear that everyone is related to somebody else who has, or had, a house down here. Explaining who a neighbor is involves a crash course in local genealogy.

Those ties are part of why things change slowly here. Old sand footpaths are closed by new owners, who realize over time that they can’t keep the fishermen and beachgoers
from using the only route to the beach they’ve ever known.

The sea changes things too, moving sandbars and waterlines, allowing
dune grass to grow.

“It’s amazing how much the sand has grown up in sea grasses,” Boutin said.

Houses have changed, too. People buy homes and expand them or even tear them down to build anew.

“I would love to see the houses retain what I think is the character of ‘by the seashore,’” Boutin said. “(Now) we have these very palatial places.”

Some of the house turnovers are estate sales, by children selling their parents’ former home. The next generation, Boutin said, sometimes thinks “it’s better to have the money than the responsibility.”

Another big change is how people communicate on the Point. It used to be kids yelling back and forth, or a few minutes of walking back to the house. Now beachgoers, especially parents, have two-way radios and cellular phones to keep tabs on things back at the house.

But all told, whether it’s partying on a sandbar or sitting outside on a summer’s evening listening to poetry read aloud by a friend, “We’re very happy down in this neck of the woods,” Boutin said. “We have a wonderful life down here.”

Expanding the village
But what qualifies as “down here,” to folks who live on the Point, has changed too.

“Pine Point was from here to the corner,” Bayley said, standing inside his business. “Up above the corner was Grand Beach. Across the marsh and up the hill was Blue Point.”

Now there’s a Pine Point Nursing Home on Pine Point Road, long before any signs saying “Blue Point.” But Pine Point hasn’t grown too much. It’s moved through the roundabout, what Bayley called “the corner” and up to the bridge over the
railroad tracks. And the stretch that was called Grand Beach, over to the Old Orchard Beach town line, is part of Pine Point now too. But the heart of Pine Point is still the sandy spit between Pillsbury Shores and the corner.

The old gathering place, Conroy’s Garage, has ceased to play its central role in the village, since the death of its owner, Jack Conroy, Bayley said.

“We were really a small, tight-knit community for years,” Bayley said, talking of knowing everyone in town and being able to walk into any house — they were all unlocked.

“Now it’s changed quite a bit.”

There aren’t that many kids around now, either, he said. “There are a few, but not like there used to be.”

The folks who move away don’t go far, Bayley said. “They’re all trying to stay where they can at least see it. It’s kind of difficult to move away.”

And even if it’s hard to move away, those property values have made it hard to stay.

“There’s more people all the time and there’s only just so much land on the water,” Bayley said.

Balance is important between the forces at work in Pine Point, the natives and the newcomers, the sea and the land, and even the wind and the buildings.

But nothing is permanent, Bayley said, especially on a small strip of sand sticking into the ocean.

“You can’t own it; you can only borrow it.”

Cape housing prices stay strong

Published in the Current

In Cape Elizabeth, land values are often nearly double the national average. And despite national economic shakiness even before Sept. 11, the town’s real estate market is more than holding its own.

In 1990, the median price of a home in Maine was $87,400, according to the U.S. Census, and Cape Elizabeth’s median price was more than twice that, at $168,500.

Town-level details are not yet available from the U.S. Census Bureau for the year 2000, but local realtors say Cape Elizabeth’s average house-closing price is $309,713.

“I think the world stood still for a couple of days (after Sept. 11),” said Tom Tinsman of the ERA 1 Agency office in Cape Elizabeth, “but after that the normal amount of interest has come out.”

While there isn’t much for sale in town, that’s mainly because what there is moves quickly, said Kathy Duca of Harnden Beecher Coldwell Banker’s Cape Elizabeth office.

Buyers and sellers are from a broad mix of people, with locals moving around, people moving from out of state and more people working from home. Cape Elizabeth buyers do have one thing in common, Duca said. Most of them are involved in transactions above $300,000.

With interest rates low and local rental prices high, it is very much a seller’s market.

“There are definitely more buyers than sellers in the marketplace now,” Duca said.

Prices have climbed sharply in the past two years, she said, citing homes which sold in the $200,000-$400,000 range then and are now selling for between $400,000 and $600,000.

The average list price this year for houses in Cape Elizabeth is $306,391, Duca said. But the average closing price is $309,713—$3,322 higher, indicating buyers are meeting if not exceeding asking prices for property.

House showings are frequent, too, Duca said. A house she represented was priced under $200,000. It had 40 showings in one day, resulting in eight offers by evening.

Even so, the average time on the market for Cape houses is 40 days, Duca said. She said sometimes sellers ask for too much. Houses that sold in months rather than days, she said, tended to end up selling far below the original asking price.

But even expensive houses and land are moving quickly, like at Cross Hill.

The 97-lot development off Wells Road has been in progress for the past year and a half. Buyers can purchase land and have a house custom-built.

Half of the lots have sold so far, according to developer and real estate agent Stephen Parkhurst of Re/Max by the Bay in Portland.

Lots are available for between $79,000 and $200,000. The four showcased home designs on the development’s web site all cost over $500,000.

Several homes have been completed and are occupied, while construction on more than a dozen houses is in progress. Some of those homes are nearing completion while other lots are just being cleared.

“Some people are still in the design stage,” Parkhurst said.

Of the 97 lots in the development, five are classified as “affordable housing.” Those lots will have homes built on them before being sold. Parkhurst said the houses
have been designed. Now he and the builders are reviewing the building costs before breaking ground. He admitted that progress is slow, but said things are moving forward.

“We’re not in the infancy stage. We’re more toddlers,” Parkhurst said.

He said he does not know how much he will ask for the houses once they are built, partly because the costs aren’t final yet, and partly because he is not sure what the
county’s median income figures will be when the houses are put on the market.

A spokeswoman at the Maine State Housing Authority said affordable housing guidelines usually stipulate a house-pricing formula based on the median income level in the area.

Parkhurst attributes the demand for housing in Cape Elizabeth to the local character.

“The market is still very healthy,” he said. “It’s a small town.”

Tinsman, however, is worried about the affordability of housing in the community. He said small lots are important for reduction of sprawl. Many lots in town, he said, are mandated to be large.

According to town zoning documents, much of the land in town is subject to zoning requirements that they be no smaller than 1.8 acres.

The World War II-era Cape Cod houses on quarter-acre lots in Elizabeth Park, he said, are a rare breed in Cape Elizabeth.

“It’s the closest thing to affordable housing we have,” Tinsman said, pointing out that now even those are selling for $120,000 to $130,000.

Some houses are purchased only to be torn down, Tinsman said.

Many of these are larger houses, he said.

People who buy the smaller homes don’t typically rebuild because they can only afford to buy at the lower end of the price range, Tinsman said. But even then they
renovate and fix things up in the older houses they buy.

“We see a lot of improvements in homes when they change hands,” Tinsman said.