Spring is in bloom and the Town is buzzing with activity these days! The warmer temps bring with it the start of road construction (you'll hear more from us about specific projects as we have details), beach season, budget reviews, and more. With Earth Day next Saturday, there are also several upcoming opportunities for you to get involved in some outdoor cleanup and protecting our pollinators. Read on below for additional important announcements and updates.
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Town Hall Closed on April 17
Scarborough Town Hall is closed on Monday, April 17 for Patriot's Day. Trash pickup will remain on schedule.
Gorham Road Construction Resumes April 17
RJ Grondin will begin work again on Gorham Road this Spring. They anticipate starting on Monday, April 17, 2023. This work will include reconstruction of the roadway, curb, sidewalk, and drainage. The work zone will stretch from just south of Maple Avenue to Ridgeway Road. Delays are expected over the next 3 months.
FY2024 Budget Review Underway
The budget season (late March-June) is a critical period for us each year, as the budget is a representation of our town’s priorities for residents. We respect the responsibility the residents have placed with the Town Council and staff to be the stewards of your tax dollars and deliver high-quality public services.
This past Thursday, we sent out a special edition newsletter about the budget. This is a helpful resource if you want to learn more about the budget process and tune into some Finance Committee meetings when certain areas of the budget are reviewed. It also highlights some of the new staff and capital investments that are proposed for FY2024.
The next Budget Roundtable is April 24. It will be held from 5-7pm at the Scarborough Public Library (Or via Zoom). Meet with members of the Town Council and Board of Education and ask questions about the budget.
Featured Budget Item: CAD System
Scarborough Public Safety relies not only on a dedicated staff, but also on a robust software system to run effectively behind the scenes. Our software is used for law enforcement and the fire department records management. Additionally, our Computer Aided Dispatch, or CAD system is used by dispatchers, call-takers, and 911 operators to prioritize and record incident calls, identify the status and location of responders in the field, and effectively dispatch responder personnel.
The Town of Scarborough was informed that the current CAD system vendor would no longer be providing developments in 2024. We became concerned with the overall long-term sustainability of the core system and knew it needed to be upgraded. The new system we chose requires an overall cost of around $825,000 and will provide significant improvement in the public safety team’s operations. We are confident that the new system will continue to ensure stability in providing critical public safety services to all citizens.
Election Day is Tuesday, June 27, 2023 and includes the School Budget Validation Referendum Election and the Special Municipal Election for the Portland Water District to fill a vacancy to expire in 2023. Voting will be held at the Scarborough High School, located at 11 Municipal Drive on Election Day from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Request your absentee ballots early for one to be sent to you. Use this online form or fill in this application and mail to the Scarborough Town Clerk's Office at P.O. Box 360, Scarborough, ME 04070-0360. Ballots will be mailed to you when they become available. All absentee ballots must be received no later than 8:00 p.m. EDT on Election Day.
For further information on Absentee Voting and Voter Registration, please contact the Scarborough Town Clerk's Office at 730‑4020.
Please be aware that Unitil will be conducting their Annual Gas Service Line inspections in Scarborough starting the week of April 17, 2023. Service Line Inspections should conclude by the end of October.
This important leakage safety inspection is required by both federal and state code. Each inspector will be wearing a High Visibility Safety vest with the Unitil Logo. Service Line inspections involve technicians walking the length of the service line from the street directly to the gas meter(s) located at the residence.
New Town Hall Hours Effective May 1, 2023
The new hours of operation for Scarborough Town Hall will be Monday through Thursday, 7:00am-5:00pm, effective May 1, 2023. Town Hall will be closed on Fridays and weekends.
This schedule change was made in an effort to improve our ability to serve the public. A September 2022 survey of nearly 300 responses supported anecdotal feedback about the limitations of a 4:00pm closing with twice monthly extended hours. This new, more consistent schedule improves accessibility for the public to conduct business with all departments during open hours. We strive to provide residents and customers with exemplary service, and hope the convenience of this new schedule supports our efforts.
Will my access to services be limited? Why the change?Are employees working less hours? We answer these questions and more on our website.
Beach passes, used for parking in Town-operated lots during the summer season, are available for purchase beginning in May. The season for beach parking passes runs from the start of Memorial Day weekend (May) to the end of Labor Day weekend (September).
• Pine Point (Hurd Park)
Passes do not apply to Scarborough Beach State Park.
Dogs on Beaches
Beginning on May 15 through Labor Day, dogs are restricted from beaches from 9:00am-5:00pm. They are allowed on leash from 5:00 p.m. to dusk and off-leash from dawn to 9:00 a.m.
The Sustainability Committee is requesting that the Town Council pass a proclamation declaring April 22 Earth Day. The Town Council will discuss this as part of their April 19 Town Council meeting.
April 19 Town Council Workshop
Preceding their 7:00pm meeting will be a 5:30pm Town Council workshop on conservation. There will be a presentation on the economic benefits of land conservation and the Council will further discuss how to achieve the goal of "30x30", or conserving 30% of land by 2030. The goal was set nationally through an executive order by President Biden and efforts are being made to implement this goal here in our own community.
Spring cleaning – good exercise for you, good improvements for your house, good benefits for your yard, and great for the Scarborough Marsh! Give wildlife a chance by joining the clean-up to remove as much trash as possible and provide a fresh environment for the fish, birds, animals and plants that beautify the marsh. Gather your family, friends and classmates to help. Bring nonperishables for food collection by Project G.R.A.C.E and meet at the Scarborough Nature Center at 9:00am. Thanks for volunteering! More information is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The annual Cumberland County Soil & Water Conservation District (CCSWCD) Urban Runoff 5K is happening on Saturday, April 22...Earth Day! We're forming "Team Scarborough" to represent our community in the upcoming road race. When you register, be sure to select "Team Scarborough" in the Join a Team dropdown to help us earn the title of Largest Municipal Team! The Urban Runoff 5K can be completed in-person on April 22 or virtually throughout the month of April.
Scarborough is one of 14 towns in Cumberland County who collaborate on stormwater education and outreach with CCSWCD.
Caleb is a Maine State Trooper who resides in Dedham, Maine with his wife and two daughters, ages 4 & 7. In 2012, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. He's relapsed twice and is now in need of a stem cell transplant from a matched donor. The Scarborough Police Department is hosting a Be the Match event on behalf of Caleb. To join the registry, you must be between the ages of 18 to 40, be in good general health, and be committed to donating to anyone in need. What is Be the Match?
Officer Dalton Announced as New Middle School SRO
Scarborough Police Department has announced Officer Tim Dalton as the nextSchool Resource Officer at the Middle School. He will transition to the Middle School in the coming weeks prior to the end of the school year.
Officer Dalton is a 2006 graduate of Roger Williams University where he received a four-year degree in Criminal Justice. He was hired by Freeport PD in 2007 before being hired by Scarborough PD in 2009. He also served six years working as a Maine Drug Enforcement Agent and has been a member of the SWAT Team since 2011. He has a reputation for being highly professional in any situation and for having the ability to quickly deescalate stressful interactions in an effective manner.
Officer Dalton has coached for the Biddeford Youth Hockey Association since 2016 and has served as a board member since 2021. His selection to the SRO position will further build upon his long-time commitment to being a mentor to our youth. Congratulations!
Assessing Department Creates anFAQ Page
The Assessing Department has created a new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page which contains a comprehensive list of commonly asked questions about property valuation and taxation in Maine.
Property assessments and taxation have historically been confusing issues for property owners. The FAQ page is intended as an easy to use source of information regarding how your property is valued, what to do if you think your property’s assessment record is in error, and what special tax relief programs are available. Included are the answers to the most commonly asked questions about real property assessments. Just click on the question and the answer will drop down; where appropriate, you’ll find links to helpful resources. If you do not see your question here, please contact our office at (207)730-4060 for assistance or email Marianne Cellucci at email@example.com.
Our new FAQ page is an enhancement to information the Assessing Department already provides on its website to educate and inform residents on various aspects of Assessment practice, including:
Additionally, we recently notified residents of two visual guides:
1) NEW Step-by-Step Guide: “How to Find Your Property Card” (View)
2) UPDATED Visual Guide: “How to Interpret Your Property Card” (View)
These guides contain instructions to help you locate your property information and understand the information the town collects and stores in our real property data system. This transparency can help us ensure the Assessed Value of your home and property is accurate.
The goal of the Assessing Department is to assist taxpayers in an efficient, knowledgeable, and friendly manner. We strive to provide accurate and educational information to residents regarding assessments, tax exemptions, and more. If you have any questions regarding the assessed value of your property or the valuation process, we are always ready to assist and serve you.
The Scarborough Conservation Commission encourages residents to practice “No Mow May” this year. What is No Mow May, you ask? It’s a grassroots effort that encourages people to delay mowing for the benefit of pollinators. Early in the spring growing season is a critical time for native bees because food sources are hard to find. Allowing lawns to grow longer and flowers to bloom provides nectar and pollen to help bees thrive.
No sure if you can live with a meadow for a month? No problem! Consider these options that will still benefit bees:
• Practice “Low Mow May” by mowing only once or twice in the month. Mowing less should still allow flowers to bloom.
• Designate a “No Mow May” section of your lawn. Keep the portion of your lawn close to your home trimmed for play areas and pest control while allowing other areas to grow up.
Mowing less in the spring certainly helps pollinators, but it’s not the only thing that bees and butterflies need. Here are other ways to improve pollinator habitat on your property all year:
• Grow a bee lawn by adding white clover, creeping thyme, and self-heal to your grass seed mix. These low-growing flowers can be mowed like grass but provide pollen and nectar for pollinators.
• Stop using weed and bug killers. These products kill both pests and the beneficial bugs in your yard. They can also harm kids and pets and pollute our water.
• Add native plants to your landscape. The best food source for native bees is native plants. As an added bonus, native plants often need less water and fertilizer than ornamentals because they’re adapted to Maine’s climate.
• Wait to clean out your gardens in the fall and spring. Many species of bees and other beneficial insects will hibernate in dead plant stems and seed pods. Leaving plants in place over the winter and later in the spring is important for these critters.
If you want to let your friends and neighbors know that you’re planning to participate in No Mow May this year, the Town has a limited number of free yard signs available to those who are interested. Stop by the Planning Department in the basement of Town Hall to pick up your sign. One sign per person is available on a first-come-first-served basis while supplies last.
Come dressed to impress with the entire family for our night "Under the Stars" as we transform the Wentworth School cafeteria into a dance to remember. Professional photography will be offered on site by Bruce Haskell Photography, as well as a selfie station for those fun and silly poses. We will have dancing and entertainment provided by Dionne Entertainment, with refreshments and goodies provided by Nothing Bundt Cakes.
As part of Age-Friendly Scarborough, let's go for a walk! This all-ages program has two goals in mind: let's get outside for a walk, and let's chat while we do it! There will be walking groups leaving from the Library on the dates listed on the library website. Sometimes, they will include special moments, like a walk lead by a local physical therapist, a walk with a kids’ story walk in it, a short-story discussion, or focused on a topic to get conversation moving.
There's a booklet to keep track of your walks and optional pedometers available at the front desk. Once you have some walking buddies, feel free to take it off campus. Our goal is 100 miles in 100 days, but all walks count. All participants will be celebrated. Sign-ups begin on Saturday, April 22 and run through July 31, for a hundred days of walking!
For this program, "walking" refers to any ambulatory method along a path, so using a walker, a wheelchair, a scooter, a stroller, or roller-skates all count.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Scarborough Town Council.
Scarborough’s population is growing! Our town experienced a larger influx of people than any other community in the State from 2010 to 2020. We went from being the 9th largest municipality in 2010 to the 7th in 2020. The seven municipalities larger than us, Portland, Lewiston/Auburn, Bangor, South Portland, Biddeford, all have something we don’t; a community center and aquatic center.
The idea of a community center is not new to this town. The first time Scarborough identified residents' want for a community center and the need for one was in 1978. Here we are 45 years later and the need still exists.
The sport organizations and groups in Scarborough are constantly faced with difficulty finding space to run their programs. Right now the town does not have enough space to run many of the programs that residents want. This year Scarborough Travel basketball paid over $18,000 to run their program in Portland. This spring alone, Scarborough Youth Football is paying over $5,000 to Gorham to run a short 5 week program. To run the middle school and high school swim programs, the Schools are paying over $7,000 a season for out of town pool time and an additional $5,000 cost is incurred by the Schools towards busing the students to out of town facilities.
The Scarborough swim program has struggled with consistency over the years due to constraints on practice time and training opportunities. Despite these struggles Scarborough boys swim team has won the Class A State Championship the last two years. The first in Scarborough’s history. Wouldn't it be nice to have a home facility? Your own center to hang your school banner. A community center and pool in town so your friends, family, and neighbors can come and support local program events and competitions.
And it is not only the schools and children of Scarborough that benefit from a community center and aquatic center. With the 65+ age population in Scarborough increasing 5% in the last 10 years we have a growing group of residents who would benefit from the low impact exercise that pools can provide, and the social opportunities community spaces offer.
This February the Town Council accepted the Park and Facilities Master Plan. This plan was developed in alignment with the Town’s existing goals as laid out in the comprehensive plan and in response to Town Council’s 2021 resident survey, as well as direct feedback from residents This plan will serve as a blueprint for the Town in planning and maintaining its parks, beaches, and recreational services. The plan identified a community center and aquatic center as a priority for residents.
In response to the Parks and Facilities Master Plan the Town Council is proposing to create an Ad Hoc Community Center Committee. This committee will be composed of Scarborough residents who will identify residents' desired programs, evaluate the amenities needed for these programs, and work with a consultant to select a site and prepare a conceptual design. The first read for the creation of this committee was at the March 15th Town Council meeting. The second reading and adoption of the committee will take place at the April 19th Town Council meeting. Both the Ad Hoc Community Center Committee and the Consultant will be working to create a facility design that meets the programming demands of our residents with the objective of developing a high revenue, low subsidy facility. Choices will have to be made throughout the development process to meet these objectives.
A community center has been identified in our comprehensive plans since 2003.
The cost of a community center and aquatic center is only going to increase the longer we wait. The time is now.
Please join us for the first meeting of the new Podcast Club. It's like a book club, but for podcasts! This April, in honor of Earth Day, our focus will be on podcasts that celebrate the beauty and wonder of the natural world, and touch on the imperative to protect the Earth’s fragile ecosystems.Here is a the "menu" of podcasts. Please listen to one or more to prepare for the discussion. This is both in person and online, so registration is preferred.
Join us for a beginner's workshop on creating your own website, whether it be for your small business, an opinion blog, or just for fun. We'll explore a few of the most popular "turnkey" website creation platforms and explain the primary differences between creating a free site versus a paid site on these platforms. We'll then dive into actually creating a free website from scratch, with each attendee at their own library computer creating their own free site. At the end of the workshop, either keep your site or just throw it away. This workshop is limited to 6 participants and registration is required.
Charity Night Dinner at Nonesuch
Wednesday, April 26, 4:00-9:00pm
Want an easy way to get more programs at the library? Go out to dinner! Join us at Nonesuch River Brewing for a fun night out to support library programming. Eat there, or get take-out! Either one supports us in our efforts to bring you more fun and learning opportunities. There will be a few librarians on hand to answer questions and hand out some little goodies.
Youth Services offers weekly recurring programs and activities like Preschool Learning & Discovery Time, Mind Readers: A Middle School Book Club, Rhythm & Rhyme (for babies and toddlers), Lego Block Party and more. View a complete listing and details on their website.