A road giving Standish residents a way to Sebago Lake is under construction.
The town of Standish is paving the way for public beach access for residents.
A construction crew manned by members of the U.S. Marine Corps broke ground last week on a road that will provide Standish residents with access to a half-mile beach on Sebago Lake. The project is expected to be completed by September.
The 2,000-foot beach access road, 100-car parking lot and wooden boardwalk are being constructed off Harmons Beach Road, a dead-end off Route 114. In June 2015, Standish voters approved roughly $365,000 for the construction of the road and parking lot, according to Town Manager Gordy Billington.
The Marines are on the job as part of the Innovative Readiness Training Program through the Department of Defense.
They “have a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the project,” Billington said of the Marines, who are staying in Saint Joseph College dorms.
The John H. Rich and Doris Lee Rich Memorial Beach, more commonly known as “Rich Beach” or “Sandbar Beach,” is named for the late Standish residents, who died within two months of each other in the spring of 2014.
Access to the beach will be available to Standish residents and guests only. Sticker beach passes, similar to the transfer station pass, will be available for purchase. The price is still being worked out, but it’s likely a one-year pass will cost about $35, according to Steve Nesbitt, a town councilor and member of the beach committee.
Final details of the beach passes will be worked out by next spring, when the beach opens for the entire season, he said. Before then, the beach probably will have a “soft opening” at the end of this summer, depending on when construction is completed, he said.
The half-mile long stretch of the sand beach is now accessible only by boat, and used solely by the Sebago Boating Club, which has maintained the beach for more than 30 years, according to Joel Campbell, club commador. The boating club has “been good stewards in keeping the beach clean,” Billington said.
For the past three decades, the town and the Sebago Boating Club have had a three-way lease with the Portland Water District, according to Campbell. The town leases the property from the water district for $100 each year, Billington said.
This year and going forward, the boating club will sublease from the town. The town and the club will share responsibilities for maintaining the property, but the water quality will be monitored by the town.
Boating club members pay a $100 membership fee, a portion of which goes to the town, Nesbitt said. The boating club will also provide a beach monitor, who will track the number of people on the beach and make sure beachgoers abide by the rules.
The beach can accommodate up to 400 people at a time, according to rules negotiated by the town and the water district. When the beach road is open for public access, the boating club and the town will split the use of the beach, with 200 boating club members and 200 residents on foot allowed on the beach at any time.
This year and in years prior, the boating club has had full access to the beach and was allowed to dock up to 100 boats. When public access is instituted, only 75 boats will be allowed at a time.
But for now, “everything is the same, seeing that the beach isn’t ready,” said Campbell.
The boating club is “working really hard to make it possible to enjoy the beach,” said Campbell.
As the club works with the town to help develop a beach maintenance plan, “we have a really good working relationship, and I hope it continues,” he said.
Dirt is moved Friday to make way for a 100-vehicle parking lot off Harmons Beach Road in Standish. The parking lot and access road are under construction this summer.
A boardwalk will be constructed from the parking lot, over the wetlands and to the beach below. Construction of the public beach facility is taking place this summer, and is expected to be completed by September.