BAR HARBOR— The Jackson Laboratory has been given the go-ahead from the town to construct a daycare facility at the MDI YMCA that will accommodate 55 children, with 40 slots to be reserved for the children of lab employees.
The daycare space, which will expand the current footprint of the YMCA building on town-owned property, will be paid for by JAX, leased to the MDI YMCA and then sub-leased to the Downeast Family YMCA, which will run the day-to-day operations.
Bar Harbor Town Council members unanimously approved the agreement Tuesday at their meeting.
As part of a planned $13 million investment in town (which also includes an in-the-works employee housing project), The Jackson Laboratory will retain the bulk of the open slots, but the overall plan would allow for additional slots for community members.
According to a 2019 survey conducted at the lab, one of the top five issues for its employees was a lack of childcare on the island. The lab’s Senior Director of Facilities John Fitzpatrick 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.
Fitzpatrick stated that the lab’s employee needs continue to grow and that there are currently 100 open positions the company is trying to fill. While presenting a chart showing employee growth, he explained that most have families. “We’ve witnessed a five percent population increase every year,” he said.
According to Fitzpatrick, although a tentative agreement has been reached between the lab and the YMCA, there are still several details regarding structure, spacing and location that need to be addressed before construction plans can be drawn up.