Do you spend your summers relaxing, or action-packed to make the most of the season? There are many moving parts here at the Town! Road construction is in full swing to complete projects in the finite season. Community Services has outlined activities for nearly every day in July to celebrate Parks & Rec month. Our Assessing department is staying in tune with news from the State on a few tax program changes affecting residents. Be sure to continue on for more of what's happening here in Scarborough—a perfect read for when you are relaxing!
Make the most of Scarborough this weekend... Visit one of our incredible beaches, walk a Land Trust trail (upcoming events), stop by the Farmers Market, or have a picnic at one of our Town parks.
Tri for a Cure Traffic Impacts on Sunday, July 16 A.M.
Long Delays on Gorham Road Next Week
Gorham Road paving occurred this past week, and the work continues today (Saturday), Monday, and Tuesday. These next couple of days will cause relatively shorter closures and delays.
After paving, they will be adding curb on the roadway. This work is scheduled for next Wednesday and Thursday (July 19th and 20th) and will again result in lengthier closures and delays. Try to avoid Gorham Road as much as possible over the next week and a half.
Mitchell Hill Road Construction Causes Detours
July 17-July 21: During the replacement of a culvert, traffic will be detoured onto Fengler Road. Mitchell Hill Road from Holmes Road to Fengler Road will be posted as open for local traffic only. Access to homes on Bittersweet Lane, Howard Lane, and 1, 6, and 8 Mitchell Hill Road will be from Holmes Road during this time. Access to homes at 18, 20, 26, 28, and 33 Mitchell Hill Road will be from Fengler Road.
July 24-July 28: During a second culvert replacement, traffic will be detoured from Holmes to Broadturn Road to Burnham Road to Nonesuch Road. Mitchell Hill Road will be posted as closed at Mary Way, on the South end, and closed at Elk Crest Lane on the North end. Access to homes at Mary Way and 57, 58, 59, and 63 Mitchell Hill Road will be from Holmes Road or Fengler during this time. Access to homes at Elk Crest Lane and 60, 65, and 66 Mitchell Hill Road and points North will be from the Burnham Road detour in Gorham.
These dates are subject to change.
Questions? Contact Public Works at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207.730.4400.
LD 290 Senior Tax Relief Program Repealed by State
On July 6, 2023, the Maine Legislature repealed the LD 290 “Property Tax Stabilization for Senior Citizens” program, with an effective date of October 11, 2023. The popularly regarded program was enacted in August 2022 and had allowed Maine seniors 65 and older who owned a permanent residence for at least 10 years and were receiving (or eligible for) a homestead exemption, to freeze taxes at the previous year’s level regardless of income.
The repeal of this program means there will be no reapplication process and no need to follow up with the Assessing Department in late August/early September, as previously communicated.
Although the program has been repealed, initial applications will still be administered this year for the upcoming Tax Commitment in August 2023. As a result, approximately 1,850 eligible Scarborough applicants will only be responsible for the "frozen" property tax bill amount for the 2023-2024 billing cycle. This amount will be equal to the tax amount the owner was billed in 2022-2023, unless their new billed amount would be lower, in which case they'd owe the lower of the two amounts. Per the law, the State will reimburse the Town for 100% of the difference between actual and frozen taxes.
It is important to note that these are State programs and while the Town plays a role in the administration of them, the Town is not responsible for the policy objectives of these initiatives.
To help lower-income seniors avoid higher property taxes and remain in their homes, two existing State programs are being expanded:
Property Tax Fairness Credit
The Property Tax Fairness Credit, which currently allows eligible Mainers to take a $1,500 credit, has increased to $2,000; it also loosens limits on the program in a way that allows the benefits to remain constant for a Mainer whose spouse passes away. Note: This program is not administered by the Town of Scarborough; to claim the credit, you must file Form 1040ME and Schedule PTFC/STFC for the tax year during which the property tax or rent was paid. For help, call 207-624-9784. For more info, please visit: Property Tax Fairness Credit Summary.
State Property Tax Deferral Program
The State Property Tax Deferral Program, a lifeline loan program that covers the annual property tax bills of Maine seniors age 65 and older who cannot afford to pay them on their own, has been expanded. It doubles the income limit on that program to $80,000 and also raises asset limits. Taxes must be paid back when the home is sold or becomes part of an estate. Note: This program is not administered by the Town of Scarborough; questions on this State managed program can be referred to Maine Revenue Services, Property Tax Division, at 207-624-5600 or email@example.com. For more info, please visit: State Property Tax Deferral Program.
New Public Works Storeroom Manager: Steve Masters
Stephen Masters joined Scarborough as our new Storeroom Manager at Public Works this past May. The storeroom manager is an essential part of the department’s overall success. Steve is responsible for managing Public Works’ extensive automotive parts and municipal materials inventory. This includes researching, sourcing, ordering, pricing, billing, organization and maintenance, along with supporting the department’s overall operations.
Steve got his start as a diesel mechanic in the marine industry maintaining a fleet of three trawler fishing vessels. He had an underwater mechanic service business for ten years, servicing most of the trawlers docked in Portland. After his first child was born in 2005, he took a position with the City of South Portland working as a mechanic in their Public Works department. He worked there for nearly two decades, further expanding his role over the years. “In 2023, I realized that it was time to step away from fleet management,” he says. “The opportunity to work for the Town of Scarborough was a perfect fit for my skill set and future goals.”
Steve spends most of his spare time with his kids. If left to his own devices, he enjoys playing guitar, writing and recording songs that nobody will want to listen to, reading non-fiction, mountain biking and riding his motorcycle. He also likes to hike with his dog no matter the time of year, as she is always ready to go for a hike with no apprehensions. Welcome, Steve!
Scarborough "Summer Outdoors" Photo Contest 📸
Enter to Win!
Outdoors is the place to be this summer in Scarborough—its parks, nature preserves, and beaches provide the perfect setting for the season. We want to see these spaces through your lens. Snap photos while you're out enjoying scenery or time with family, and share with us for a chance to win a gift card from a variety of Scarborough businesses!
How to Submit
Complete our Entry Form to submit your favorite photos. Upload up to three photos with a title and caption (optional). Remember, they must be taken in Scarborough and outdoors to qualify! For each photo, select which category to enter it into:
Parks & Paths
Families & Fun
Check out the latest entries in the Facebook photo album! Entries will be added to this album on a rolling/weekly basis. The photo with the most 'Likes' in each category will win a gift card to a local business here in Scarborough.
Thanks to The Dairy Corner, Oak Hill Ace Hardware, Nonesuch River Brewing Company, Highland Farm, and Scarborough Grounds for the prizes!
Event calendars are available to pick up at the Community Services Hub, Town Hall, and the Scarborough Public Library.
Scarborough Community Services has had a great couple weeks so far celebrating National Parks and Recreation Month with residents! We have partnered with Martin’s Point Health Care to offer free fitness, family, and wellness sessions throughout the month. Sessions include annual favorites like Zumba and Yoga and Pokémon and Popsicles in the Park. This year, we have also organized many more family-friendly and kid-approved activities and events, like next weekend's Barbie Party, Wacky Water Day on July 26, and the Community Block Party on July 28! The block party will be held at the Wentworth playground and field with games, music, and food trucks on hand for the whole community to enjoy.
Scarborough Community Services has applied for a grant in hopes of expanding our mission by providing more recreational opportunities, and we need your vote! The WinterKids Downhill 24 Outdoor Fund aims to get kids outside and active across Maine by addressing barriers to healthy outdoor activity, including but not limited to equipment, clothing, and transportation.
We Need Your Vote
Grants will be awarded to organizations who receive the most votes! First place in each of the three categories will receive $10,000, second place will receive $5,000, and third place will receive $1,500. One honorable mention winner will receive $500. Please help us make it happen by voting by July 28!
New adaptive traffic signals have been installed along Route One from Municipal Drive to the 701 Connector by the Maine Medical Center campus. The upgrade will go into effect this coming week.
What is an Adaptive Traffic Control System?
An adaptive traffic control system (ATCS) differs from more traditional traffic signals in that they are able to detect and adjust in real-time to traffic flow and demand. It is designed to intelligently respond to driver patterns and service signals most efficiently based on traffic demand. Previously the system was based on a set time-of-day plan. Commuters should expect less unnecessary wait time at signals and smoother travel along the Route One corridor with fewer stops at red lights.
Who was involved in this project?
This project has been a partnership between the Town of Scarborough and the Downs developers as required by the Down's Traffic Movement Plan with the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT). The size of the development project at the Downs has necessitated the developers to obtain approval from the Maine DOT and the Scarborough Planning Board and to make comprehensive off-site transportation improvements to support the traffic demands that result from increased development.
Is this part of a larger project?
Traffic signal operations are a top priority for the Town of Scarborough. Not only do well-coordinated traffic signals increase safety along our streets, but they also improve travel efficiency, cut down on red-light delays, and save motorists time and fuel. This latest signal upgrade comes a few years after the installation of adaptive traffic controls at three Dunstan corner intersections in 2019. The project has been a great success, resulting in a 24% reduction in wait and travel times. There will be one final phase of adaptive traffic signals installed on Route One next year.
How will this affect my commute?
Once it has adjusted to traffic patterns, the new adaptive signals from Oak Hill to the Connector should have a noticeable impact to commuters through that area. Please be aware that the signals serve based on demand; the system is designed to give green lights to the lanes that need them and then move to where the system sees the next highest demand only for the amount of time they need. This means that the lights may turn green in an unpredictable fashion that is different from the familiar cycle-based pattern. It also means that the lights may change more quickly than expected. Rest assured that the system respects the mandated minimum times for green and yellow lights and ensures an all-red period when lights are changing.
Questions? Contact Public Works at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207.730.4400.
Public Safety Makes Significant Software Upgrade
Scarborough Public Safety (Police, Fire, Emergency Communications Division) is partnering with Tyler Technologies to upgrade their core system software. This was approved in the FY2024 budget and will be purchased using funds from the Downtown TIF revenue, having no impact on the taxpayer/tax rate.
Public Safety uses a core software suite comprising of three main components: Law Enforcement Records Management (RMS), Fire Department Records Management (FMS), and Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD). These systems are critical to a successful modern public safety system. The development, buildout, and implementation of the new software is underway and is anticipated to be completed and fully operational within the next 16-24 months.
Dispatch Manager Joe Thornton explained the need for system upgrades during the FY2024 budget review process. Watch Video
Signs of Invasive Emerald Ash Borer in Library Trees
Arborists recently discovered emerald ash borers in ash trees at the Scarborough Public Library. The emerald ash borer is an invasive beetle from Asia that was accidently brought to North America in infested wood. The beetles bore into the trunks of ash trees, cutting off the flow of water and nutrients, which kills the trees. Emerald ash borers also reproduce very quickly and have no natural predators in North America, which means their populations can grow rapidly.
Emerald ash borers are very small, so they’re difficult to see. They’re usually discovered once they’ve already attacked a tree and the tree starts to show signs of infestation. Some of these signs include portions of the tree’s crown dying off, splits in the tree bark, leaves growing from the roots or trunk in abnormal ways, woodpecker damage, D-shaped holes in the trunk, or S-shaped tunnels under the bark. In most cases, trees that are infested with emerald ash borers need to be removed.
The Maine Forest Service is tracking emerald ash borer infestations across Maine. If you think you have emerald ash borer on your property, please take pictures and report it to the Maine Forest Service.
If you’re interested in learning more about the emerald ash borer and how to protect your trees from an infestation, visit the Maine Forest Service website. The Scarborough Public Library has also requested informational materials, which should be available soon.
Upcoming Programs with Scarborough Land Trust
• Tuesday, July 18, 10am - Family Trail Run/Walk, Fuller Farm Preserve - FREE
Follow a Raindrop is a 3-part educational program in collaboration with Friends of Scarborough Marsh intended for children ages 8-12. Along this journey, we will investigate the physical properties of water and the biological organisms that depend upon this resource. The program is composed of field experiences centered around three different natural communities – freshwater stream and wetland, salt marsh, and coastal beach. Learn More
Join the fun! Our free and family-friendly concerts, co-sponsored by Scarborough Chamber of Commerce and Scarborough Community Services, are held on Thursdays evenings at 6:30pm for six weeks in the summer. Be sure to pack a picnic dinner, bring your chairs or blankets, and visit the park for one (or all) of the concerts:
July 20: Delta Knights Classic Rock, R&B and Blues
July 27: Compaq Big Band Big Band, Swing
August 3: Don Campbell Band American Crossovers and Originals
Last week the School Board approved the Building Committee’s recommendation to request the Town Council bring the K-8 Strategic Project and Unified Primary School to voters at the upcoming November Election. The Town Council will make the final decision on August 16th, which means now is a great time to get caught up and get involved.
Council Corner: Finding a Solution for Scarborough Schools
By April Sither, Town Council
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.
It is not lost on me that the process to get to a potential referendum on a new school project has been a long and winding road that most residents in town have not fully traveled. There have been stops and starts, not to mention a global pandemic, since I first voted against the proposal in 2019. Like many of you, I have a deep affection for our neighborhood schools. I attended Pleasant Hill (pre-renovation) in the 80’s, and I am currently mentally preparing for the teary goodbye that will come when I drop my youngest off at Blue Point for her first day of kindergarten. To be clear, I will be the one crying…she is ready to rule the world. But when I think about what it is that I love about our primary schools, it is certainly not the buildings.
Back in 2019 I was hopeful that the buildings could be renovated. I have since learned that the renovation timeline would likely be a decade long, and even if the current lots had the space, the cost would be astronomical. I know that the unified school solution still has many people concerned. I am willing to roll up my sleeves and work through the concerns I am hearing because it is important to me that people trust that the due diligence has been done. We may ultimately disagree on some of the choices being made, but I hope we can all be solution driven. The council has several more weeks to decide if this project is ready to go to the voters this November. Currently, the council vote to place the unified school on the November 2023 ballot is scheduled for August 16th.
Over the past year many people have shared their biggest concerns with the Town Council, School Board, and Building Committee. While everyone comes to the table with their own perspectives there are several main concerns that I am hearing from the community. Not the least of which is the cost. The unified school is a huge financial investment, and it will have an impact on our tax bills. The Town is currently engaging with a third party advisor to better understand what the impact will be. I anticipate having a more concrete understanding of the tax impact prior to any council action to put the school on the ballot. I understand that not everyone can afford to see their taxes increase, but I also remain optimistic that once the financial models have been analyzed, there will be ways to finance the project that do not result in a huge spike to anyone's tax bill.
I have also heard concerns about the site being within the Downs. I get that, too. Opinions surrounding deals with the Downs’ developers have been historically mixed, and I anticipate that some residents will prefer that the building committee had recommended a different location. The Downs site was not a forgone conclusion, and even I supported it with some reservations. It is important to me that the new school be centrally located, and given the limited availability of land, it is logical that the Downs site would be desirable. The Town is currently working through an appraisal process to determine a purchase price for the parcel. I for one will not move forward with a “deal at any cost,” so I am eager to see the final results of the negotiations. I believe that the benefits of the Downs location will ultimately outweigh the disadvantages, but acknowledge there will be some compromises as we navigate traffic, infrastructure, and the impact to neighbors. This would be the case no matter what site had been selected.
Lastly, I want to acknowledge concerns over the size of the school for our youngest learners. I’ll end where this article began. When I think about the neighborhood schools, it is not the buildings that I love; it is the way the people make me and my children feel. I am certain that so much care and planning has gone into the design of the new school to create a space that will feel welcoming, safe, and exciting for our k-3 kids. In fact we have a wonderful educational model within our community at Wentworth where the creative ways of making a big school feel small are on full display. In addition to the opportunities that the new school will bring to our K-3 kids, I am equally excited that the proposed solution will move the 6th graders out of the portable classrooms at the Middle School to Wentworth. The proposed unified school building is intended to be a district wide solution that, in my opinion, is long overdue.
There is still work to be done between now and August 16th. Should the council vote to send the school project to referendum in November, the Building Committee will be launching an information campaign to ensure that residents have all the information needed to cast their votes. If you have any questions or concerns, information is available on the building webpage, or you can reach out to me directly at email@example.com.
Scarborough Town Council
Jonathan Anderson, Chair • Jean-Marie Caterina • John Cloutier • Don Hamill • Nick McGee • Karin Shupe • April Sither
Town Council meets the first and third Wednesday of each month. Visit our Town Calendar for links to attend and view agendas.
Join for a book discussion of Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty. Set in a Native community in Maine, the book is a riveting debut collection about what it means to be Penobscot in the 21st century and what it means to live, to survive, and to persevere after tragedy. It will be followed by a watch party on August 9 for a statewide Zoom where Talty will read passages from his book, reflect on his writing, and answer questions from participating libraries and readers across the state. This program is part of the Maine Humanities Council’s Read ME program.
Attend this riveting talk by author Lisa Beecher about her book Living with Mr. Fahrenheit and her experiences dealing with psychological trauma. Lisa Beecher and her husband are first responders, deeply invested in careers and family, when he experiences a psychotic break. From a treatment failure in a psychiatric hospital, to her husband’s return to work and beyond, the family is forced to operate by the rules of a culture that does not encourage and support caring for mental health in an optimal way.
Living with Mr. Fahrenheit throws open the door on a first responder family’s psychological trauma, where secrecy and shame maintain an influential grip. Beecher lends her voice to a small but growing number of people willing to share their personal and professional experiences in a call for greater understanding, and culture change, in handling the impacts of first responder trauma.
The Library has been hosting Walking Groups since Earth Day as part of Age-Friendly Scarborough. Monday, July 31 marks our 100th Day of Walking! To celebrate, local physical therapist Dr. Jason Adour will join us to talk about the brain, body and balance connection. We’ll follow with an All Ages DIY Parade through the Green Trail, our walking path through the municipal campus. Even if you have not yet walked with a library group, you are invited to get your walking shoes on and your sillies out for our parade at 11:00am. We’ll be leaving from the Library, and the more the merrier!