Sometimes, you have to walk away from stuff because it grates on you. Other times you have to have a measured response. And sometimes you need to just let it fly and rant. And that is ok. It's ok to be angry. Well, I am angry. I am angry about a beach in my town, and the fight to keep access there. It's called Higgins beach and it is arguably one of the most popular, or well attended beaches in Maine. I am not going to go into all the history around this fight, suffice it to say I spent (along with a a TON of other people) a lot of time and emotional investment trying to KEEP the precious little access the public has to this beach last winter. The town council voted a certain way. It was a bad compromise, but there it was. What are you going to do? We didn't lose all access, but we lost a lot. I thought it was over.
Nope! This morning as I got to the beach I noticed several things. One, that there was no on street parking, and that there was no parking in the parking lot either, and there was a guy giving tickets! Wait, if the town knew they were going to be down there working on the roads, and they know people recreate there, shouldn't they have made exceptions?
Then I noticed that the road crew working down there was painting the new lines for the parking spaces. Not only that but they painted a ten foot (approx.) wide walkway space on the right side thus basically putting the parking spaces in the middle of the road! Well! No wonder you can't park on both sides of the road, because there is this whole zone, that no one really ever told anyone about that is now blocked off! Bullshit.
And of course, the signage all over the community is completely wrong. 'No parking at any time' (then in mice type- except where noted) And one hour parking 'May through September, no parking at any other time'? Completely wrong! Completely! I was there when this terrible compromise was passed and I recall distinctly that the 12 or so spaces from Morning to Vesper streets were to not have any time limit on them. Now they all say one hour. And off season, you can park there with no time limit. Did the town lie to us? It certainly appears so. Or are they manipulating the signage, so those who don't know won't park there?
And speaking of lying, why is the lot being paved when we were told by that town it wasn't going to be? Why are they ticketing people during the construction phase when no one can access the lot- which was the whole reasoning behind the HBOA's wanting to remove the on street parking in the first place? What the hell is going on down there?
And then reports of HBOA members harassing people parking completely legally under the new laws? Let me be clear, I truly don't believe everyone who lives at Higgins is a bad person. I do believe that the people who are trying to manipulate the town and shut off our public access should find themselves a nice cozy gated community far from the public arena.
And speaking of manipulating the town! I have said it before and I will say it again. This isn't about access to the town, they have made it clear they don't care about public access. It's about money. Who has it, and who doesn't. The people at Higgins have it (whether they are 'rich' or not doesn't matter-their tax base is higher, as their property values are higher so the town gets more money out of them) and we, the rest of Scarborough, don't. But let me be very clear here. These are public roads, paid for and maintained by all of Scarborough. We pay for a lot of the infrastructure down there as well (the Seawall project, the Drainage project, the lot, the trash pick up, the plowing and the policing!). And now we are being told we can't park on OUR roads? And are getting ticketed by an officer whose sole job is to walk the beach (no not the neighborhood, just the beach) and ticket folks, who is being paid with OUR money? Again, bullshit. I have to say, far be it from me to ever, ever accuse any person of being crooked. I WON'T DO IT. That said, the steadfast, unwavering, non-consideration of other opinions motivations of certain council members around all this have to be questioned. I think primarily of councilor Wood and Councilor Sullivan. Wood obviously hadn't even ever been to the beach before this whole thing started as he didn't even know where the Inn was located. He doesn't care, and it is obvious from his rant at one of the first meetings that he doesn't. They have removed this particular video from the web but it was from December 1 of 2010. I have a copy and you can request one too. Yet somehow, he is so adamant and passionate about safety issues (non existent as testified to by the Scarborough Chief Of Police). Why is that councilor Wood? Why?
So tell me Councilors, why is it that folks can park on my (public) road, and I can't park on their (public) road? Is there a reason? Safety isn't it, that is clear.
I have played patty cake over the last 8 months about all this, trying my best to be reserved, not to point fingers or make anyone angry 'Oh you don't want to make the councilors angry, that won't help' Keep it civil blah blah blah. But you know what? It is clear that they don't care. They are going to do whatever it is they want to do. It is an unbelievable shame that our publicly elected officials don't much care about the public, and the overwhelming opinions they carry. (Though I don't even know if Town Manager Tom Hall is an elected official) I do however want to give big ups to councilors Holbrook, D'Andrea, and Rancourt for fighting for the public's cause. Thank you.
It is truly unbelievable. If you are as angry about this as me, we should figure something out. A park in, or better yet a slow parade- Get as many cars in there as possible on a saturday and everyone just drive around at 3 miles an hour so they can't ticket or tow you. Take action. Take this issue to the public. NO one, I mean no one I have talked to, save the folks who live at Higgins, support a parking ban. We need to get parking at Higgins to be the same as any other town beach. Easy access and free parking on public roads in the off season, and limited, enforced parking in season. Easy, and lawful, and the right thing to do.
You know, with all the crap going on in the world, this may seem like a little issue. Even on a local level (think about the horrific vote recently about the school budget). But when the opinions of the vast majority of the public are ignored for the benefit of the few, even when it comes to parking on a public road, there is something really wrong with our system. Shame.
Well, I promised a rant. There you go. I am sure plenty of folks will poke holes in some of what I state here. But this is how I see it in this moment of anger. If you have factual disagreements, feel free to comment. Even though this was still more reserved that how I feel. You should ask the guy who was riding in the truck with me.