Acadia to hire 15-20 for Cadillac reservations 

ACADIA NAT’L PARK — The park will need to hire as many as 20 new employees to operate the system of timed-entry reservations for driving up the Cadillac Mountain Summit Road between dawn and dusk from late May to late October. 

That, say park officials, is why they need to charge $6 per reservation. 

For the 18-day pilot of the reservation system in October, the park charged $2 per reservation. 

“That was the contracted price that gets for providing the reservation service,” said John Kelly, management assistant at Acadia. 

“During the pilot, we used employees from various divisions – [Chief of Facilities Maintenance] Keith Johnston was out directing traffic for hours over the weekend – and that, of course, is not sustainable. 

“So, operating the Cadillac reservation system will take 15 to 20 new park employees.” 

Sunrise and sunset are among the most popular times for people to be at the summit of Cadillac Mountain. And because the sun rises so early and sets so late in June and July, staff will be on the job as early as 3 a.m. and as late as 9 p.m.  

“To cover our costs for staffing and administration, we can use a fee for the reservations,” Kelly said. “We worked back from what it would cost us to hire and supervise a staff and then made some assumptions about the number of reservations we would have over the season, and we came up with a $4 special recreation permit fee that gets added to the $2 contract fee.” 

Today (Feb. 11) is the deadline the National Park Service set for the public to submit comments on the proposed $6 fee. Kelly said that, as of Monday, more than 250 comments had been received. 

“Some of the comments reflect the idea that we are just looking to make money, that the reservation system is about making money versus managing vehicles,” he said. “We are trying to get the public to understand that the ultimate goal is to make the visitor experience safer and more enjoyable and that we’re not making anything extra; we’re just covering the cost of operating the reservation system.” 

Kelly said park officials are trying not to look at the public comments about the proposed reservation fee as either positive or negative. 

“That’s because we don’t want to imply that this is a vote,” he said. “We’re hearing that people are concerned about the extra fee. A lot of people prefer to have the government appropriate enough tax money for us to do this. And some people would like us to raise the park entrance fee. 

“The reason that wouldn’t work,” Kelly said, “is that we are charging for a particular service, whereas the park entrance fee is required for anyone over 15 to enter the park at any time May through October. With the reservation fee, we are only charging those people who are taking a vehicle up Cadillac, much like we charge a fee for people to use our campgrounds, in addition to the entrance fee.” 

Once all the public comments have been received and reviewed, the National Park Service will decide whether to approve Acadia’s proposed $6 reservation fee for Cadillac Mountain. 

“We are hoping that by the end of March we will have [reservation] tickets on sale at,” Kelly said. 

In addition to hiring extra staff, he said the park will need to make some infrastructure changes around the intersection of the Park Loop Road and the Cadillac Summit Road. Those include building two reservation check-in booths, paving some gravel areas and putting in new signage and landscaping. 

“It might not all come together by May, but this is what we’re working towards,” Kelly said. “Eventually, we’re going to have night sky-friendly lighting, just a few poles, for safety in the early mornings and late evenings.” 

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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