Improvements eyed for Otter Creek Hall

MOUNT DESERT — The Aid Society of Otter Creek wants to build a paved driveway on the side of its community gathering place, The Hall, and create a wheelchair ramp to a new entrance to the building.

The cost could be as high as $100,000, depending on whether the driveway has to wind up the hill or go straight up from Route 3.

Mike Sealander of Sealander Architects in Ellsworth is working with representatives of the Aid Society on the project.

He has prepared three options for making the building handicapped accessible. Two of the options, both in the $60,000 to $70,000 range, would involve a 150-foot switchback ramp from street level to the main floor.

Negotiating such a long ramp “could be difficult or tiring for someone in a wheelchair, plus we would have shoveling to deal with,” Aid Society Secretary Linda Lunt said at the society’s meeting Monday night.

The dozen or so people at the meeting voted unanimously in favor of building a driveway to the north side of the building and a 15-foot wheelchair ramp from the driveway.

“It would be very convenient for someone who is handicapped,” Lunt said.

“We want everybody to have access to the building, but it also keeps us within the letter of the law,” she said, citing the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The concrete wheelchair ramp would have steel railings.

Otter Creek resident Kevin Walls said that by making the building more accessible, “I think we could promote it for more functions.”

The Aid Society rents out the hall for both public and private events.

Lunt said there are a number of potential sources of grant money for the driveway and ramp project, such as Maine Preservation. And she said there is a good chance the ramp can be built with free labor.

“The Bar Harbor police have approached us about doing volunteer work,” she said. “They really want to do a wheelchair ramp, and there are none in Bar Harbor to do right now.”

Part of the village of Otter Creek is in Bar Harbor.

Otter Creek resident Karen Zimmerman, who has met with Lunt and Sealander on the project, said there would be a “hammerhead” at the end of the driveway where vehicles could turn around and probably one space for a handicapped person’s vehicle to park. All other parking would still be along Route 3 in front of The Hall.

Lunt said that as soon as Sealander determines whether a driveway straight up beside the building is feasible or a longer, curved drive is needed, “We will begin the search for money.”

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]

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