ACADIA NAT’L PARK — Park officials have commissioned both a site survey and a boundary survey of a 50-acre parcel in the Town Hill area of Bar Harbor that connects to no other park land and for which there is no public access.
The goal is to help determine what the land might be used for. Suggestions have included a workforce housing development, a solar energy farm or both.
The site survey will look at the topography and landscape features, such as wetlands. The boundary survey will include the placement of boundary monuments and identification of right-of-way access.
“This will be the first time we have surveyed the property,” said Christie Anastasia, the park’s public affairs specialist. “We’re hoping to get the site survey done next February and the boundary survey next summer. This is our first step in understanding how the land may or may not be used.”
What to do with Acadia’s orphan parcel of land has been under discussion for well over three decades.
The bill that Congress passed in 1986 establishing Acadia’s permanent boundary recognized that the park should contribute to the management of Mount Desert Island’s waste stream. It directed the National Park Service to convey the 50 acres in Town Hill to Bar Harbor for the purpose of building a regional solid waste transfer station. The bill also provided that the Department of the Interior would contribute 50 percent, up to $350,000, toward the cost of construction.
But it soon became apparent that, for a number of reasons, the Town Hill site was not suitable for a transfer station. The future of that parcel has been in limbo ever since.
Bar Harbor Town Council member Gary Friedman suggested two years ago that the site “could be ideal for a combination of park employee housing and solar energy generation.”
Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider last winter told the Acadia Advisory Commission that park officials were talking with officials of the neighboring towns about possibly using the 50-acre parcel for community workforce housing and housing for park employees.