BAR HARBOR— After teaming up late last year with Mount Desert Island YMCA on plans to construct a new childcare facility, The Jackson Laboratory has announced that it will temporarily halt the project.
“The impact of the project costs has brought us to the decision to take a step back from this arrangement at this time,” said Catherine Longley, the lab’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.
The Jackson Laboratory had planned to fund the construction of a facility on the town-owned YMCA property that would accommodate 55 children, with 40 slots reserved for the children of lab employees. Initial plans were approved at a Town Council meeting last December. Financed by Jackson Laboratory, the space would have been leased to the MDI YMCA and subleased to the Downeast Family YMCA, which would have run the day-to-day operations.
“Regrettably, as the conversations continued and the costs continued to escalate, we came to the mutual understanding and agreement that the plan just isn’t viable at this time,” said Scott Hammond, chairman of the MDI YMCA Board of Directors. On behalf of the MDI YMCA, Hammond said he was fully supportive of the partnership with the lab and the opportunity to leverage the Downeast Family YMCA’s experience in running its childcare facility. “We look forward to a continued strong relationship with both The Jackson Laboratory and our Y-family in Ellsworth at Downeast Family YMCA,” said Hammond.
According to a Jackson Laboratory survey taken in 2019, lack of childcare on the island was one of the top five issues for its employees. During December’s Town Council meeting, John Fitzpatrick, the lab’s senior director of facilities, said that local daycares are known to have long waitlists or won’t accept infants, and that some lab employees who live and work on the island have been driving to Ellsworth before work to drop their children off at daycare. He stated that the lab’s employee needs continue to grow, adding “we’ve witnessed a five percent population increase every year.”
“Affordable childcare and housing remain critical factors in retaining and recruiting a world-class workforce on Mount Desert Island,” said Longley, assuring that Jackson Laboratory remains strongly committed to providing a suitable site for childcare on Mount Desert Island and will quickly consider other options for their employees.