Wednesday, July 3, 2002

Conserve Prouts Neck Black Point, residents say

Published in the Current

About 40 residents from Prouts Neck and Black Point gathered at Camp Ketcha June 27 to express their wishes that natural areas in the neighborhoods be preserved forever.

Most were senior citizens, but the youngest resident in the room was only one month old. Her parents, John and Ruth Hughes, were there, Ruth said, to make sure their opinion was heard in the town’s visioning process.

Erik Hellstedt of Planning Decisions, the South Portland firm hired by the town of Scarborough to conduct the visioning program, explained the process. The town is accepting input from residents and will use that information to update the town’s comprehensive plan, Hellstedt said.

“This is a process where the town is really trying to get ahead of the curve,” he said.

Residents were asked to create lists of features they wanted to keep, and their hopes and fears for the future of their neighborhoods and of the town.

Natural features residents wanted preserved included: Scarborough Beach, Ferry Beach, the Libby River, the Cliff Walk at Prouts Neck, Camp Ketcha, Massacre Pond, bird refuges, clam flats, Scarborough Marsh, the Nonesuch River, the Winslow Homer area, and the Eastern Trail.

Some residents were concerned about Dale Blackie’s proposal for a 92-foot tall condominium building on Pine Point, which they could see from their property or beaches nearby.

“I don’t want towers. No one wants towers,” said one resident.

Many residents were especially adamant about protecting views and natural areas. “It’s a pretty unique little place,” said Liz Maier.

Also of concern were traffic and congestion issues. Jake McFadden said the group he was working with at the meeting, “didn’t want the roads expanded to four lanes.”

Development and taxes were the most commonly listed items in the “fears category,” with other issues including jet-skis, lack of beach access, special exemptions to zoning, lack of strong protection for the marsh, limited school capacity, commercialization of the marsh, and improper use of existing structures.

“We hope we do not lose what we have because we have what we want,” said Margaret Wise.

Residents expressed hope that there would be limited growth and more walking and biking trails, as well as conservation and preservation of more land throughout the town. Many people spoke about a town center, but were divided on what that would mean.

Frank O’Hara of Planning Decisions asked a series of specific questions that illustrated the differences of opinion. Some people wanted an activity center that could serve teens, senior citizens and all residents, which might include a pool and other recreational space.

Others wanted a “Main Street” area, with shops, apartments, churches and a real pedestrian-friendly atmosphere.

Looking out about 20 years, residents wanted many changes throughout he town, but few close to home. They hoped to see continued and strengthened environmental protection, increased volunteerism throughout the community, clean businesses, controlled growth, affordable taxes, connections between the different sections of town, and a town transportation system. Some also mentioned the idea of ethnic and economic diversity.

Affordable housing and specific areas for business development were also suggestions residents made.

The next neighborhood meeting will be held Tuesday, July 9, at 7 p.m., in Town Hall for the areas of Oak Hill, Eight Corners and Payne Road.

Following that will be a meeting, at 7 p.m., Thursday, July 11, for North Scarborough, at South Coast Community Church on Route 11 4 .

The final two meetings will be held the week of July 15 for the neighborhoods of West Scarborough and Broadturn Road, and Pine Point and Blue Point.