Decision expected on proposed Scarborough Beach parking lot

Mar 24, 2011 Full story: The Forecaster

The debate over whether to allow a 500-car parking lot and beach access near Scarborough Beach, on 64 acres owned by Sprague Corp., is heating up as a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting approaches.

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Tim Rhys

Topanga, CA

#1 Mar 30, 2011
Dear Leroy, Rick, Mark, Art, Jim, Dave, and Dan- members of the ZBA,

Maybe some of you remember the Joni Mitchell song "Big Yellow Taxi." In it is the unforgettable line "They paved paradise just to put up a parking lot."

Well, I guess "they" are still at it. You gentlemen, however, don't have to be a part of this proposed atrocity. You can be strong enough to make a courageous decision which will impact our community in a profoundly positive way. You can help protect what is special about our community.

People care about this issue deeply. The reason so many come to Maineó the reason our state remains a special placeó is not because there's ample parking. It's certainly not why my wife and I bought our little house in Cape Elizabeth. Maine is different than Los Angeles and Connecticut and Boston and all the other places people come "from" when they come to Maine because it is a refuge from pavement. I guarantee that these pilgrims would rather be inconvenienced if it means preserving what they love about our state.

As I'm sure you know, our area (especially Scarborough) has been suffering from the blight of suburban sprawl for decades, and it remains at great risk of losing the quality that makes it a special place to both vacation and raise a family. Both Cape and Scarborough have stood up for natural places in the past, of course. The public is fortunate to own the
Scarborough Wildlife Management Area and salt marsh, which is vital to southern Maine because it contains some of the most productive wildlife habitat in the region.

Acting to preserve land in its unspoiled state in the face of heavy commercial pressure is a courageous act. But please don't lose sight of the intrinsic and intangible value that open space has. It gains in value to the community as sprawl continues to gnaw away at the fast-dwindling open areas. And that is why this is not just a sentimental plea. It makes good sense to save this land in its current state for every conceivable reason. Hopefully the Sprague family will realize this and abandon the idea that "paving paradise to put up a parking lot" is somehow necessary. Hopefully they will continue to be good stewards for this land well into the future.

To be blunt, you gentlemen do not have to be a part of the erosion of our quality of life. Rather, you have an opportunity to be remembered as visionaries who refused to give in to the unnecessary deterioration of our Maine's pristine farmland and unspoiled coastal vistas. These places desperately need more friends in high places, not fewer. Please do the right thing for our children, for future generations of Mainers and even for our tourists and all those who visit Maine from far away. We will all be eternally grateful.

Thank you so much in advance,
Tim and Jessica Rhys
(and our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.)

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