Town acquires parking lot to ensure public access to Higgins Beach

The town of Scarborough now owns the parking lot at Higgins Beach, ensuring that surfers, sunbathers, fishermen and others will be able to visit the beach in the summer.
The town has been working to buy the lot since last year, when the Vasile family said it planned to sell the property but wanted to make sure the lot remained open to provide beach access to the public for years to come.
On-street parking is prohibited at Higgins Beach, so without the 1.5-acre parking lot, visitors would have to make long hikes or switch to other beaches. Higgins is prized by surfers for its fairly dependable waves, and surf-casters say it's a good place to fish, particularly for stripers.
The Vasile family told the town last year that it wanted to sell the parking lot and get assurances the public could still use it. Scarborough voters approved a $1 million bond in November to provide some of the money for the purchase, along with funds to buy a 10-acre piece of land near the Nonesuch River.
The two properties were appraised at $1.44 million. The Vasile family agreed to cut $170,000 off the price.
The rest of the funding consisted of $632,145 from the Land for Maine's Future program, a matching amount from the town's bond and $7,270 from fundraising by The Trust for Public Land and the Surfrider Foundation.
Terry Turner, an official with The Trust for Public Land who helped put together the final pieces of the purchase, said the process was marked by an unusual amount of cooperation among the town, adjacent property owners, the state and the Vasile family.
The land purchased along the Nonesuch Rivers adds to a proposed greenway. The property, on Mussey Road, will also help protect a wildlife habitat and add to a buffer around the Scarborough Marsh.
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