The days may be colder this time of year, but planning for community projects and council goals is just warming up. Many of the stories below show examples of collaboration—what can be accomplished when departments, Town Council, and external organizations work together with public input and involvement. Some of these efforts address immediate needs, like the upcoming fuel rally to keep our neighbors warm. Others are a forward-thinking, multi-step process with several stakeholders, like the school building project. Read on for details of what's ahead and how you can be involved.
Take a look at our Town Calendar for upcoming meetings. Links to participate remotely or view agendas are posted to the calendar as the meeting date nears.
Work Toward School Solution Resumes
Council Corner Live Recap
Last Thursday the Town Council held a Council Corner Live, their first in 2024, to have an open discussion around finding a school solution and what it looks like. They were joined by members of the Board of Education and two community facilitators to help guide the exercise, along with about 30 residents in attendance.
Participants were asked to express their support for the school referendum on a scale of 0-10. They were put into groups based on their scores and listed their reasonings. Groups were then mixed and discussed their recommendations for a new proposal, with ideas like, "Set a budget and then develop a solution at a reasonable cost" and "Keep the community aware of progress along the way at key decision points; chunking information into digestible pieces". At the end of the facilitated session, residents were asked to apply to be on the new School Building Committee if they wanted to continue to be involved.
The Town and School are taking a phased approach to moving a new solution forward. The first iteration of the committee will be to review existing data to identify the need and current situation, and evaluate feedback from a community-wide survey to propose a recommendation to the Town Council and School Board.
This Council Corner Live event was in-person only due to the format of the facilitator-led discussion.
New School Building Committee Being Formed
The Scarborough School Board and Scarborough Town Council are working together to create a new School Building Committee. Their charge is to research the current space issues in the district and propose a new solution. Once formed, the committee will meet and determine a cadence and schedule as a committee. Subcommittees will also be formed and will determine their own schedules. This is a great opportunity to get involved!
Apply to Join Committee
The Town Council and School Board encourage residents to apply to serve on this reestablished new committee. Volunteers should expect about 10 hours a month in meetings. Any residents interested in serving on this committee should apply no later than February 9th, 2024.
The Assessing department is gearing up for a town-wide revaluation happening this spring, the first since 2019. Not only is it required by state law, it will also help us receive higher reimbursements and exemptions from the State. Preliminary new valuations will be mailed to homeowners in May/June, so we're still a few months away. In the meantime, learn more on the Revaluation FAQ page of our website. We'll also continue to share more helpful information about the revaluation in our newsletters.
Every year here in the Town of Scarborough proves to bring new initiatives, investments, and council goals. And we wouldn’t have it any other way—it shows that we have an engaged community of residents who either come out to vote, share their thoughts with the council, or choose to serve on our committees. 2023 was no exception to year-round action and engagement. Check out some of the biggest stats and accomplishments from the last year:
6 years: Time spent on Gorham Road project
The ongoing Gorham Road (Rt 114) construction process began with its first phase in 2018 and has addressed road surface replacement, drainage, visibility, and pedestrian improvements. The final phase of the project will be completed this spring with CMP and utility work at the intersection of Gorham Rd and Maple Ave. The Town values your cooperation and patience through the duration of this extensive project.
1.9 miles: Length of Spurwink Road Improvement Project
The Spurwink Road Improvement Project began in September and its first phase (Ocean Avenue to Pleasant Hill Road) was completed this fall. The project enhances pedestrian and cyclist amenities with the addition of sidewalks and bike lanes. It also addresses blind corners and vertical alignment issues for improved visibility, and fixes drainage issues for climate change resiliency. Phase II (Pleasant Hill Road to Spurwink River) will occur this spring.
Municipal Drive: Starting point for new adaptive traffic signal installation
Last July, new adaptive traffic signals were installed along Route One from Municipal Drive to the 701 Connector by the Maine Medical Center campus. The system is able to detect and adjust in real-time to traffic flow and demand, working to improve commute times with fewer red light stops for traffic on Route One. Ongoing upgrades have been made to adaptive traffic controls since 2019. There will be one final phase of adaptive traffic signals installed on Route One in 2024.
1978: Year when Scarborough first expressed interest in a community center
This fall a new ad hoc community center advisory committee convened to further explore the opportunities for a community center. The committee is tasked with studying, evaluating, and analyzing opportunities for a multi-generational community center that would meet the recreational and cultural needs of all demographics in Scarborough. They are working with architectural design firm UTILE and will meet monthly through 2024.
July 1: New Rate of Growth Ordinance went into effect
The Rate of Growth Ordinance is a tool to manage the pace of development within our community and regulates how much of the allowable growth in an area can occur in a designated time period, within a set framework. It was approved by the Town Council to replace the former Growth Management Ordinance, placing new parameters on residential development and directing growth to our designated growth areas while preserving the rest of Scarborough.
$2.3M: Amount of capital expenditures being funded using cash instead of debt
The Town Council set a goal for 2023 to give more attention to monitoring the financial health of the Town. During the budget process last spring, the Town made a meaningful step toward reducing our reliance on debt for recurring, anticipated capital investments (i.e. replacement vehicles and equipment). The Town is utilizing cash, not debt, to fund roughly $2.3M of capital expenditures, compared to around $1.3M last year. “The financial health of the town is strong and something we need to sustain in 2024,” said Councilor Jon Anderson in his January 1 Council Corner article.
30%: Percent of land to conserve in Scarborough by 2030
In June 2023, the Town Council unanimously approved a resolution called “30x30”, a goal to conserve 30% of our land by 2030. This federal initiative was adopted on a local level due to Scarborough’s unique natural resources, rate of growth, and vulnerability to climate change. The Scarborough Land Trust is a major partner with the Town on land conservation, and funding has been made available through the Town’s Land Acquisition Reserve Fund. The fund is managed by the Scarborough Parks and Conservation Land Board, which supported a number of SLT land purchases in 2023.
600+: Number of referrals Social Services division has received since launch in 2019
This year the Town hired a full-time General Assistance Coordinator to join its Social Services division. The division, embedded within the police department, was first launched in 2019 to provide intervention, advocacy, and facilitation services for individuals facing adverse challenges. The needs have been exacerbated by the pandemic and regional/national economic strains. The new GA coordinator is now the third in this division, bolstering the level of social services we offer to address housing insecurity and our unhoused population through the general assistance program.
Award for 18 Years of Excellence in Financial Reporting
Our Finance department is proudly displaying there Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting. The Town of Scarborough was awarded this for the annual comprehensive financial report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2022. This is Scarborough's 18th consecutive year of receiving the prestigious award.
The report has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive "spirit of full disclosure" to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the report. The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.
Finance department from left to right: Barbara Fagnant, Donna Rosacha, Jen Lord, Norman Kildow (Finance Director), Nikolas Darmetko, Liz Hernandez, Lisa Saulle
Cathy Chandler Retires After 42 Years with Police Dept
After 42 years, this is Cathy Chandler's last week with the Scarborough Police Department before she heads into retirement. Cathy is only the third police department employee in our organization’s history to reach over 40 years of service.
Cathy began her career in July 1981 when she was hired as reserve officer assigned to Higgins Beach foot patrol and in September of that year, she was also hired as a part-time dispatcher. In June of 1982, she was hired as a full-time dispatcher. During her time in dispatch she received several commendations. In 1985, she received commendations for her dispatching abilities during Hurricane Gloria. Also in 1985, Cathy received a commendation letter for assisting a distraught mother during a rescue call where her 2-year old child was having convulsions and having breathing difficulties. Cathy was able to quickly calm down the mother, obtain enough information to dispatch rescue and then instruct the mother on how to stabilize the baby’s condition. Cathy was recognized twice in her career as Employee of the Month in 1996 and 1997.
In 1997, Cathy transitioned out of the dispatch center and into a new role as the full-time records clerk. In February 1999, Cathy became the Chief’s Administrative Assistant where she was awarded a Unit Citation in 2006 for her assistance in helping department members on a continuous basis. Cathy’s steady work ethic, expertise and consistency led to her selection as the Support Person of the Year in 2010.
The Town of Scarborough is very fortunate to have had the caliber of person we have in Cathy Chandler. She has immense pride in our Police department and safeguards our reputation with her professionalism and institutional knowledge. We wish her the best in her well-deserved retirement, which she plans to spend enjoying time with family and friends.
Recognition ceremony in February 2022 for Cathy's 40 years of service with the Scarborough Police Department.
Photo taken between 1984 and 1986. Left to right: Sgt Bill Zackular, K-9 Charlie, Officer Cathy Chandler, Officer Dave Goodman, Officer Mike Edes, Officer Pete Bickmore, and Officer Dave Corbeau.
Public Safety Response to January Storms
January 10, 2024 storm damage
January 13, 2024 storm flooding
Town staff worked long days and nights in support of our coastal neighborhoods during back-to-back storms on January 10 and 13 that brought historic tides and flooding to many areas of Town.
Scarborough’s coastal neighborhoods were particularly affected with more significant damages to both public infrastructure and personal property damage. Both storms required an “all hands on deck” response from the Town’s emergency management team. Heavy flooding of sea and marsh water at Pine Point required the Fire Department, Sanitary District, and Public Works to pump over 1 million gallons of water. Additionally, “Higgins Beach appears to have taken the brunt of the storms’ wrath,” says Fire Chief Rich Kindelan. There was significant damage from flood waters to roads, a sanitary pump station, seawalls, and barriers. The full extent of private property damage is not yet fully appreciated.
Natural disasters like the storms that occurred this January are a reminder of the vulnerability of our infrastructure and the fragility of being a coastal community. The response from our community underscores our resilience and serves as a reminder for being prepared when disaster strikes. Our Police and Fire Facebook pages are the most immediate source for real-time information that we put out to the community. Please refer to these accounts for alerts, preemptive road closures, and tips to ensure your safety.
Permitting Guidance for Storm Damage Repairs
The significant storms on January 10 and 13 caused flood damage both to Town infrastructure and personal property. As residents affected by property damage plan for repairs, please note that all repairs and improvements require permitting. Properties within a dune system and/or floodplain have additional regulations which must be met to ensure compliance with Scarborough’s Floodplain Management Ordinance.
Local permitting is required for properties:
Within the mapped flood hazard areas
Within the Shoreland Zone
Federal permitting may be required for properties:
Within the frontal or back dunes
We have put together guidance on our website for further information. Learn more.
Our Town Engineer Angela Blanchette received the Golden Raindrop Award at the New England Water Environment Association’s (NEWEA) 2024 Annual Conference last week. The Golden Raindrop Award is given to a NEWEA member who has made notable contributions to the stormwater field. Nominees are voted on by members of NEWEA’s Stormwater Committee.
Angela was recognized for being a leader in the stormwater field in Maine and New England. She has a unique ability to bridge the gap between engineering and planning. She is a valuable resource and an important municipal voice for stormwater throughout Maine. Her perspective is often sought during State permit negotiations because she understands the practical impacts of proposed regulations. She was recently invited to serve on the State’s Technical Committee for the update of Maine’s Stormwater Law.
Town Engineer, Angela Blanchette (center), receives the Golden Raindrop Award from members of NEWEA’s Stormwater Committee.
Angela is an active member of NEWEA, serving as Vice Chair of the Stormwater Committee from 2012-2018 and Chair from 2018-2021. She has represented NEWEA on the New England Stormwater Collaborative since its inception in 2013 and has represented Scarborough on the Board of the Long Creek Watershed Management District since 2016.
Angela’s knowledge, expertise, and dedication have benefitted Scarborough’s stormwater program and local water resources. The Town is very fortunate to have someone of her caliber among its ranks. Congratulations, Angela!
Winter Reminder: Leash dogs from 1-3pm on beaches
Take advantage of the off-season winter months for your beach walks! Our furry friends are welcome at all hours during this time of year, but please keep the following leash rules in mind:
• 1:00pm-3:00pm Dogs must be on leash at all Town beaches
• Other times Dogs may be off leash; must be under voice and sight control
Click Here for our beaches page for details and a link to our Animal Control Ordinance.
2023 photo contest entry "Happy for Higgins" taken by Erin Bouchard.
2024 Election Dates
Request Your Absentee Ballot (March Election)
2024 is a presidential election year. The presidential primary election will be on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. Absentee ballots may now be requested. Complete the Application for an Absentee Ballot and mail to or drop off at the Clerk's office. Alternatively complete the online request form. Absentee ballots will be mailed to those who requested it when they are available.
Continue all the fun and excitement of fall soccer indoors! This fast-paced indoor soccer program allows kids to work on skills they learned during fall soccer. This program consists of games on Saturdays only; there are no practices during the week. Teams will be made coed if enrollment minimums are not met.
See more programs and offerings like these in the Community Services winter program brochure.
Age Friendly Scarborough Seeks Volunteers
Age Friendly Scarborough is dedicated to helping the Town’s older residents remain independent and help them thrive while staying involved in their community. The Age Friendly Committee is looking for members and volunteers to help advance this mission. Please consider becoming a committee member or volunteering your time in whatever areas you are most interested in. For more information on how to become involved, email our Active Adults Program Coordinator Rebecca Voisich at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 207-730-4173.
Kayak Storage Rack Lottery for 2024
Tired of lugging your kayak to and from the beach? Community Services has the answer for you! The Town of Scarborough has 16 spaces at the Pine Point Co-Op, 16 spaces at Ferry Beach, and 16 at Clay Pits boat launch that are leased to Scarborough residents/taxpayers on a seasonal basis each year. The lottery registration for 2024 opens on 2/2 and closes on 2/25. To register your name in the lottery for 2024, please check out all of the details on our website or call 207-730-4150.
February 10: Project GRACE Annual Fuel Rally Event
Join Project G.R.A.C.E. and friends for their 12th Annual Fuel Rally on Saturday, February 10. They are teaming up for the "Keep Our Neighbors Warm" fuel assistance fundraiser to raise $25,000. This year's rally will be held at the Scarborough Public Library. More details:
Chili & Chowder
Pick up a quart prepared by Bread & Butter Catering Co. with a $12 suggested donation (pre-order at fuelrally.org or call 883-5111). Each 'heat and serve' quart of smoked brisket chili or haddock chowder serves two generous portions and comes with a side of cornbread.
Hadacol Bouncers Hadacol Bouncers will be playing live at the Rally (10-12 on the 10th). Their music is fresh and bright, a fun hybrid of New Orleans Jazz, Chicago Style Jazz, novelty songs and other classics from the great American songbook. Hadacol has a traditional line up of banjo/tenor guitar, piano, tuba, drums, trombone, soprano sax/clarinet and trumpet/cornet.
Make & Take Crafts for Kids
The Library’s children's department is offering several "make and take" crafts as well as a Valentine’s themed Lego challenge, and fun scavenger hunt.
Maine Audubon’s Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center, Community Services, and the Scarborough Historical Society are all participating this year, alongside Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Volunteers in Police Service, and the Scarborough Fire and Police Departments. Proceeds from raffles, a bake sale, and bottle sale will also help raise funds for fuel assistance.
Learn more about the event and find donation & registration links at www.fuelrally.org.
Council Corner: Cannabis Cultivation and Its Odor
By Jean-Marie Caterina
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.
In days past, when smoking cannabis was quite illegal, I can remember towels being stuffed under dorm doors to keep the odor in the room. The smell was pervasive and could get a student into big trouble if the university decided to enforce the law. Those who dared to grow it were really pushing the envelope as the plant is very “skunky” when harvested. Hmmm...how things don’t really change!
With the state legalization of recreational cannabis in 2018, Scarborough “opted in” to allowing for the cultivation of the plant and the manufacturing of related products in industrial zoned areas. We do not allow for retail sales. The process of outlining the ordinances that control cannabis in town was intensive and detailed. We heard from all sides of the issue as we crafted the first try at allowing for cannabis businesses in town.
After four years, we are learning that the aroma of the plant when harvested is very difficult to “scrub” and keep out of the air of neighborhoods that surround facilities. It is not a pleasant odor. Allowing it to permeate nearby homes is unacceptable. It is time to reconsider how to move forward.
As a Councilor, I find that I often weigh competing interests to craft policy that works for the majority of folks. Most small business owners have followed the rules and, yet, despite the best plans and mitigation efforts, the reduction of odor is not working. The residential neighborhoods surrounding their facilities are still experiencing ongoing days of the distinctive smell permeating their neighborhoods. It is time to reexamine the issue and potentially change where, or if, Scarborough will continue to allow cannabis cultivation.
In a recent goal setting meeting of the Council, all Councilors indicated support for changing where cultivation will be allowed. To be clear, state law will trump local zoning as regards medical cannabis. We may not be able to discontinue those facilities. However, our attorney has assured us that it is possible to make zoning changes that either move cultivation to a different zone or eliminate it altogether as it relates to recreational licenses. Either decision will require a gradual phase out over a specified time period in order for current businesses to wind down operations and relocate. What is certain is that change is coming.
The Ordinance Committee is tasked with reviewing all potential changes. Our next meeting is February 14 at 6:00pm at the Public Safety Building. All members of the public are invited to attend. As Chair, I suggest submitting an email for the written record as the time period for comment is limited to 15 minutes at the start of the meeting. Please send to email@example.com.
Scarborough Town Council
Nick McGee, Chair • April Sither, Vice Chair • Jonathan Anderson • Jean-Marie Caterina • Don Cushing • Don Hamill • Karin Shupe
Town Council meets the first and third Wednesday of each month. Visit our Town Calendar for links to attend and view agendas.
Scarborough Little League Registration is open! They support players ages 4-12. Registration will remain open until February 16 at 9:00pm. for all players age 9 and up. Registration will remain open for players below age 9 until March 29 at 9:00pm.
Share the news with your friends and neighbors if they are new to Scarborough Little League. Questions? Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you know that suicide is among the leading causes of deaths for people of all ages, including older adults. Talk Saves Lives provides participants with a clear understanding of this leading cause of death, including the most up-to-date research on suicide prevention, and what they can do in their communities to save lives. Participants will learn common risk factors and warning signs associated with suicide, and how to keep themselves and others safe.
Topics covered include:
• Scope of the Problem: The latest data on suicide in the U.S. and worldwide
• Research: Information from research on what causes people to consider suicide, as well as health, historical, and environmental factors that put individuals at risk
• Prevention: An understanding of the protective factors that lower suicide risk, and strategies for managing mental health and being proactive about self-care
• What You Can Do: Guidance on warning signs and behaviors to look for, and how to get help for someone in a suicidal crisis
World Read Aloud Day
Wednesday, February 7, All Day
Drop in any time for World Read Aloud Day, an annual advocacy day that celebrates the power of reading aloud and sharing stories. Join us all day for pop-up read alouds and a kids and teens book swap. Bring a gently used book(s) and swap for a new-to-you title! Dress up as your favorite book character and get an extra book!
Podcast Club: Gossip
Thursday, February 8, 11:00am-12:00pm
Please join us for a meeting of the Scarborough Public Library Podcast Club. It's like a book club- but for podcasts! This month we will try to beat the winter doldrums with a fun topic: gossip. Never listened to a podcast before? No problem! Use this club as a springboard for learning more about the world of podcasts. The group is for seasoned listeners and newbies alike. The discussion will focus on both the substance and the style of the podcast selections.
At a Death Café, people - often strangers - gather to eat cake, drink tea, and discuss death. Our objective is 'to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their finite lives.' It is a group-directed discussion of death with no agenda, objectives, or themes. It is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counseling session. All are welcome - join us!