Community Workshop on July 25 on the City’s Open Space Protection Plan
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Community Workshop on July 25 on the City’s Open Space Protection Plan

The City has begun work on an Open Space Conservation Plan to guide and prioritize land conservation efforts in Scarborough. The community is invited to participate in a fun and interactive workshop July 25 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the Public Safety Building as part of the planning process. The workshop will be an opportunity to consider what is most important to protect and provide input on areas that should be protected in Scarborough. Members of the project team will provide real-time feedback from participants during the workshop.

Other engagement events are also planned throughout the summer. Members of the project team will attend concerts in the park on July 11, July 18 and August 1 to gather community feedback. They will also be at Scarborough Summerfest on August 16. An online engagement tool is also being developed to virtually gather community feedback. The online tool will be available from July 11 and can be accessed via the Open Space Plan project page in the “What’s on” section of the city’s website.

The Open Space Conservation Plan is intended to provide a comprehensive set of strategies to ensure that the city’s approach to land conservation is implemented in a way that serves the entire community and protects important natural resources. Given Scarborough’s rapid growth over the past 20 years, the city hopes to preserve its unique seashores, salt marshes, wetlands, forests, uplands, tidal rivers and streams. These landscapes provide critical habitat for birds, crustaceans, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. The city hired Viewshed, a Maine landscape architecture, GIS and planning firm, to help develop the plan.

The plan will also provide the city with a set of conservation priorities to achieve the 30×30 goal that was set by City Council in June 2023. The name 30×30 refers to the city’s efforts to preserve at least 30% of Scarborough by 2030. The Open Space Plan will inventory existing conservation lands to establish a 30×30 baseline and help the city better understand the additional protections that need to be put in place to achieve this goal.

The City Council has appointed an ad hoc Open Space Committee, made up of representatives from several advisory committees and Scarborough community organisations, to lead the planning process. The Ad Hoc Committee is providing valuable input into the plan and will support a number of community engagement events planned for this summer. The plan will be completed by February 2025.

The plan will address open space protection through both priority mapping and strategic recommendations. The Scarborough map will identify areas classified as high, medium or low priority for open space protection. The map will not identify specific parcels for protection. Instead, the information will be displayed as a “heat map” that shows the general areas that should be prioritized. The mapping process will use data from six resource categories, including habitat, agriculture and forestry, recreation, water quality, environmental threats and sea level rise. The Scarborough community will rank the resource categories, with the most valued resources receiving a higher priority status on the map.

The plan will also include recommendations to guide conservation efforts in Scarborough. Recommended strategies will cover topics such as potential sources of funding for conservation, potential changes to ordinances, ways to expand recreational resources and trail networks, and programs to protect existing undeveloped lands within the conservation area.

More information about the Open Space Conservation Plan can be found in the “What’s Happening” section of the city’s website. Questions should be directed to Jami Fitch, Sustainability Manager, at [email protected] or (207) 730-4035.

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