Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Concurrent Session: A Place for People

Panelists: Dan Bacon, Town of Scarborough; Bob Foley, Save Our Shores Maine; Mic Harris, Save Our Beaches; Nancy Veihmann, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve

Changing demographics, economies: access gets reduced.

I. Bob Foley of Wells

A. Moody Beach case

a. Issues that informed the case

Needs not addressed by Wells municipality:

1. Officers

2. Lifeguards

3. Bath house

b. Costly lawsuit

c. Divisions still exist

d. Can town reach out?

B. Wells Beach Eaton case

a. Public access issue

1. Work cooperatively with CPOs

i. Economic needs

a) Tax base along beach

i) Tourist base

ii) Coastline important commodity

b) Harbor dredge

2. Cooperative agreements seem to be the best method to reach common ground

i. Collaboration to regulate where birds are

ii. Should be a model for other towns

iii. Spoke out against regulations

II. Dan Bacon

A. Beach access initiatives

Higgins Beach

ü Partnered with Lands for Maine’s Future

1. Acquired private parking lot

2. 1.2 million funding

3. Maintains beach access in perpetuity

i. Access important to many users

a) Surfers

b) Beach goers

c) Fishermen

d) Dog walkers

i) Needs for property owners

1. Bath house (for people to change in vs. in the open)

2. Privacy

3. Balance of public and private goods

B. Conflicts of users

a) Nuisances

b) Different on-street parking standards

c) A lot of public dismay expressed

Pine Point

a. Land swap with motel to enhance beach access

1. Made motel and town lands contiguous

2. Drop off, boardwalk, sitting area, bicycle storage, etc.

3. Parking

4. Walkway to beach

ü Process negotiations

1. Viewshed

i. Limit on height

a) Lower fences

b) Lower landscaping

c) Private development constraints

2. Concern over fairness of swap

3. Utility of access (no parking or turnaround)

4. Pedestrian access much improved, views maintained

Blackpoint Park

a. Proposed “sister” to Scarborough Beach

b. New beach and pocket park

1. Proposal by Sprague family

i. Beach park

a) 62 acres of woods, fields and beach

b) Parking area (500 cars)

c) Access point to the beach

2. Potential extension of Scarborough Beach

i. Scale in question

a) Condense the scale of the project

b) Lessen visual impact for the neighbors

3. Currently needs to go to the planning board

i. Concerns if allowed with zoning

a) Impacts to natural character of the area

b) Major changes on the property

c) How can a project like this be balanced for beach access and natural resource management/protection?

III. Mic Harris

A. Goose Rocks Beach

a. Divisive issue

b. Year 2 in the litigation

1. Passionate for beach access

A. Private ownership component

a) In Maine

i) Public access different than in many most other places

ii) Beach = front lawn

iii) Allows CPOs to keep people out

iv) Community mindset missing that exists in other places (that have different beach access rules)

c. Grassroots organizing

1. Would it make a difference?

2. Would the town take stock?

3. Created ‘Save Our Beaches’

i. Passions

ii. Create case for access

iii. Lawsuit to protect the beaches

4. Community healing

i. Issues

ii. Meet at the table

iii. Plaintiffs concerns along with beach access organizers concerns

B. Public Access Doctrine

a. Broadened in some areas to include fishing, fowling, navigation

b. Historically interpreted ‘intertidal’ in these ways

1. Beaches are public, however

i. Access more obscure

ii. Getting there can be a problem

C. Purpose today

a. Strategies

b. Uses

c. Economy

d. Assumptions and accountability

IV. Audience thoughts and questions

A. Still sad about Moody (the impasse is still sad)

B. The CPO is not the enemy

1. Need to look at what the resource (public access) can sustain

2. The beach – used to capacity

i. Increasing access

a) What needs to be addressed

i) Everybody can’t use everything all the time

ii) Societal problem

3. The larger the crowd, the less responsible the behavior

4. As the amount of people on wells beach increase, the care of the beach decreases

5. Legitimate concerns

C. Drake’s Island

a. At high tide, beach gets very narrow

b. People having a picnic on your lawn

c. Inappropriate behaviors

d. Alcohol use

D. Higgins Beach

a. How will parking lots and the size affect the number of beachgoers and will the beach be able to withstand pressures

b. Erosion

c. Water quality

E. Sprague proposal or Higgins Beach parking

a. Audience member upset that numbers haven’t been broken down (how many people can the beach sustain)

b. Resource effects / access

V. How should beach use be improved? Peer problem solving.

A. Audience on Higgins lot/budget

a. We need bathrooms and we need changing rooms

1. Needs to be finished

2. Ask the community to fundraise

Examples shared:

· In Wells: All parking fund goes into the beach account for everything – not general fund at all

· In Scarborough: Same

B. Audience on Kennebunk issues

a. We have a coastal association that drives decisions

1. Has not allowed bath house

2. Nothing allowed to be sold on or near the beach

3. Satellite bathrooms with barriers have addressed the changing issue

b. Overwhelming how many people at Gooch’s beach

1. Dogs allowed only at certain times

2. Monitors (27) pick up trash

i. Monitors need support

ii. Tourists and renters that come to the area

a) How to keep them in line?

c. Audience on Scarborough Beach

1. Over-utilized issues a theme for all beaches

d. Audience on Goose Rocks Beach

1. Private property made this country

i. Live on private road

ii. Issues

a) Private property rights infringed upon by beach goers

b) Access

i) There is plenty of access

ii) People take advantage of the inability to control overuse and types of use

iii) Intentional use of something you don’t own

iv) Eminent domain

c) Simple signage

i) Town won’t do it

ii) Private signs cause conflict with town officials

d) More beach availability? People get together and buy land for public use (like Massachusetts).

C. Any ideas on how to monitor or maintain better beach use?

Examples shared:

· In Wells: Lifeguards don’t just sit, they walk around and interact with people over broader safety issues and etiquette

1. Trash

ü Location of nearest receptacles

ü Cues to dispose of trash and recyclables before leaving

2. Children

ü Safety

ü Diaper disposal

Walking of the beach very successful!

· Idea for Gooch’s?

VI. Access pros/cons and peer problem-solving.

A. Can humans and birds / creatures share the beach?

a. Constant need for monitors to educate

b. People need to speak up

c. Ideas for beach carrying capacity:

1. Theater full? Closed. Can we create similar enforcement for beach sustainability?

2. Entitlement issue

3. How can sustainability and carrying capacity be controlled?

4. Parking lots

a) Full? Don’t allow overflow

Examples shared:

· In Wells – Will not be increasing the parking lot size

· In Higgins – Lots of cottages, so impossible to monitor beach use

ü Should be used to inform the size of the proposed parking lot

· Characteristics of Maine Beaches that make Maine unique

Charles Colgan struggles with these differences

ü User numbers difficult to track

ü Cottages vs. parking

ü How much beach visitors are spending

ü Who can undertake? Do surveys?

· In Kennebunk – Beaches surveys are conducted

· In Scarborough – Are we looking at how many bodies can sit on a beach?

B. Are we looking at beaches as a resource to protect?

a. Compare land trust paths, etc.

1. Preserve the beach for the future.

2. Make beach more attractive – green infrastructure.

3. Rules twisted to get what you want.

b. Scarborough Beach use and parking issues – overuse.

1. Threats incurred by parking lot

a) Threats to the beach

b) Threats to everyone.

§ Piping plovers

§ Erosion

§ Zoning issues

c) Town government completely ignores the town people

2. Economic impact

a) Small beach creates revenue @ $2 million / year (1989 figure)

3. Environmental constraints

a) Shoreland zone and parking lot plan –

§ Porous surface

§ Gravel and grass seeded

§ Gravel primary entrance

C. Open access to beaches pro debate

a. South Portland mayor chimes in

1. Encourage people to use open space

How do you say there are too many people using the park? The green belt? How do we define, without turning people away?

2. Re: theater comparison – different scenario completely. Fire code issues.

§ Vibrancy and excitement must be extended to all

§ What improves people’s quality of life?

§ Obesity issues and how they relate to outdoors and access to nature

§ Today people talk about limiting that use

b. Rebuttal

o Walk down the beach stepping on people’s towels, too many people

o Dunes getting flattened – issues from overuse

o There is a limit to space

D. Goose Rocks Beach

a. Drakes Island CPO question concerning Save Our Beaches law case

1. Are you basing your claim that you want beach access rights by description like the Wells Eaton case?

b. Mic Harris answer

1. Like lawsuits do it evolves

i. Historical use perspective

ii. Utilized by community and the public

iii. Laws (drinking and misbehaving always been controlled)

2. At the end of April, the town used $ on deed research

i. Town unveiled deed researched

ii. The 1st deed to Cape Porpoise = 600 acres conveyed to citizens

ü Beach to be protected and held for the citizens.

ü Next generations of deeds all retained that language

ü People started writing in their deeds

ü www.preservegooserocksbeach.org

3. Audience inquiry: access to GRB?

i. Parking spots along the beach

ii. River on both sides

a) Finite geographic area

iii. Raised prices on parking stickers

a) Roughly 100 parking spots (require stickers)

iv. Various spots along 2 1/2 miles -- access walkways

a) Some are popular

b) Portable kayaks, rowboats set on people’s property while accessing the beach

c) Things town can do about that

E. More on capacity issues

a. Quality of water

b. Advisories don’t help

1. Not a pleasant thing to do

F. Foley weighs in

a. Regulatory standpoint

1. Building standards

i. No standards for beach capacity

ii. Interesting thing for a town

2. Scarborough

i. Nothing to refer to

ii. Impose standards? Have to have standards already established to impose

3. Scarborough Beach in 2010

i. 80,000 visitors

ii. New parking lot proposed will double use of the beach

a) This condition creates the need for a standard to be created

1) Avoid "oops, maybe it’s too much…"

2) Use park as a benchmark:

· Reasonable?

· Too crowded?

b) Scarborough needs to develop a standard beforehand

· Discuss capacity, how you judge it and how to mathematically calculate for planning purposes and preservation.

VII. Wrap-up themes

· Preserve water quality

· Open to enjoyment

· Won’t ever be easy answers to the debate

--by Holli Andrews

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