Thursday, July 25, 2002

Pine Point, Blue Point concerned about healthy waterways

Published in the Current

The first stage of Scarborough’s neighborhood visioning project concluded July 18, with a meeting of the Pine Point and Blue Point neighborhoods at the Blue Point School.

“It’s a different kind of planning process,” said Frank O’Hara of Planning Decisions, the South Portland firm the town has hired to conduct the visioning project. “It’s one that starts with a conversation.”

The 50-odd Pine Point and Blue Point neighbors discussed where their sub-neighborhoods were, coming up with areas along the beach like Pillsbury Shores, the Old Pine Point neighborhood and East Grand Avenue; Eagle’s Nest and Seavey’s Landing along the river; and Peterson’s Field, Old Blue Pine Estates, Old Snow Village, Burhnahm Woods and Windsor Pines more inland.

Areas of particular significance were the beaches, clam flats, marsh and river regions, which residents wanted preserved. Residents were also concerned about access to shoreline and boat launch facilities.

Other important areas were the Pine Point Fisherman’s Co-op, Peterson Field, Windsor Pines, the Maine Audubon reserve, Dunstan Landing, the Eastern Trail and wildlife sanctuaries, Jones Creek, the park and tennis courts across from the Blue Point Congregational Church, and several historic buildings, including the churches in the area, the former post office next to the Clambake restaurant and the Periwinkle, a former bowling alley and dance hall.

Neighbors’ fears for the next 10 years included over-development, increasing taxes, beach and river erosion, traffic, overcrowding, crowded schools, high-density housing, filling in of the river and the marsh, dune grass fires, beach litter, pollution, parking issues, sprawl, crime, loss of sidewalks and bike paths, and losing a sense of pride in the town.

Also on the lists of fears were high-rise buildings, including the list at the table where Dale Blackie was seated. Blackie has proposed a six-story building with 32 separate housing units, to be built on Blue Point Ridge. The project has not yet been presented to the Planning Board.

Residents also came up with lists of things that would improve quality of life. Those included a senior center, improvements in town government, traffic control, increasing sidewalks and bike paths, limiting growth and development, good quality schools, regular raking of the beach and controlling use of the Pine Point Beach and marina. They also called for protecting wetlands, stabilizing taxes, keeping open spaces, a branch library, parking limits in Pine Point, keeping the area “quaint,” mosquito control, better enforcement of existing laws (especially leash and pooper-scooper laws), cleaning of the beach and roadsides, maintaining the diversity of the area, providing a voice for summer residents, pursuing home tax delinquents, requiring developers to leave more trees, and enforcing shoreland zoning.

Traffic and parking complaints also played into a collective opposition to the proposed Great American Neighborhood at Dunstan Corner.

Some residents said they would be OK with the plans, but only after traffic and school facilities were planned and built.

“Dunstan Corner cannot handle the traffic,” said Stan Bayley, who called the intersection “dangerous.” Hopes for the town as a whole also included controlling development, maintaining the historic character of the town, and keeping a balance between business, residential and open space. “We’re concerned that the Town Council thinks progress is more development,” said Pierre Brunet. “There’s a lovely balance here.”

Favorite places throughout the town tended toward the beaches, but extended to natural, scenic and cultural spaces all over, including Scarborough Downs, Fuller Farm, Flaherty Farm, Beech Ridge Farm, the marsh, the Eastern Trail, Prouts Neck, the school/sports/library area in Oak Hill, the clay pits off Black Point Road, Kingston Field, Springbrook Park, the fishing derby pond, the Christmas tree farm on Beech Ridge Road, golf courses, the Hunnewell House, Bessey School, Dunstan School and Oak Hill Grammar School, the old drive-in property, the scenic drive along Spurwink Road toward Cape Elizabeth, the woods along the I-295 connector and the grange halls.

Hopes for the town’s future included lower taxes, growth control, lower-density neighborhoods, public transportation, beautification of Route 1, a town pool, strong schools, biking and hiking trails, tax relief for senior citizens, tax relief for farmers and fishermen, a teen center, protection of the marsh, town-wide sewers, improved traffic management, limits on industrial development, maintenance of natural land, better planning and budgeting, instilling a sense of pride and community in residents and visitors, sidewalks everywhere, dredging the Scarborough River, parking controls, increasing the commercial tax base, recycling, increasing government’s attention to citizen concerns, and providing services for seniors.

“I’m tired of paying taxes and having a hot dog diet,” said one senior citizen.

Planning Decisions will meet through the rest of the summer with advocacy groups in town, including the Scarborough Historical Society, the Conservation Commission and the Scarborough Conservation Land Trust. The fall will see a town-wide meeting to address issues raised in the neighborhood meetings, followed by a report to the Town Council to incorporate into the town’s next comprehensive plan.