BAR HARBOR — After 30 years in limbo, it’s time for the fate of 55 acres of land in the village of Town Hill to be resolved, according to the Acadia Disposal District (ADD), a municipal solid waste disposal district made up of five area towns.
The parcel near the intersection of Route 102 and Crooked Road is owned by the National Park Service (NPS).
The 1986 act of Congress that established Acadia National Park’s boundary acknowledged that the park should contribute to the improvement of the management of Mount Desert Island’s solid waste stream. The act directed the NPS to convey the parcel in Town Hill to the town of Bar Harbor for the purpose of building a regional solid waste transfer station. It also provided that the Department of the Interior would contribute 50 percent, up to $350,000, toward the cost of building the transfer station.
Mount Desert Public Works Director Tony Smith, who also is president of the ADD, said that during hearings on the 1986 bill, witnesses cautioned Congress that the land to be donated might not be suitable for a transfer station.
“The witnesses have been proved right,” he said. “For a number of reasons, including residential and commercial development in the area and access issues, the Town Hill lot is entirely unsuitable for use as a solid waste transfer station and will never be put to that use.”
Smith wrote to 2nd District Rep. Bruce Poliquin on Aug. 31 requesting that an Acadia boundary bill he is preparing include the removal of restrictions on the use of money authorized for solid waste management. He said in his letter that the town of Bar Harbor may request that it be allowed to use the 55 acres for “a public purpose,” not specifically a transfer station.
“If the town of Bar Harbor makes this request of the congressional delegation, Acadia Disposal District would fully support it,” Smith wrote.
The bill that Poliquin is preparing is similar to one introduced in the Senate earlier this year by Sen. Angus King, which would affirm the NPS’s annexation of land on the Schoodic Peninsula and clearly establish Acadia’s permanent boundary. That bill has passed a committee and will now go to the full Senate.
If Poliquin’s bill passes the House and is not identical to King’s Senate bill, then the differences will have to be worked out before being voted on again by both chambers.
Mount Desert Town Manager Durlin Lunt also wrote to Poliquin on Aug. 31 asking him to include language in the bill he is preparing to “resolve the solid waste management stalemate in the Boundary Act.”
He said that because of the way the act was written, “the monies authorized … have been frozen for 30 years.”
“As a result, the National Park Service has never made the contribution Congress contemplated; yet, throughout that 30 year period, the National Park Service has continued and will continue to contribute to Mount Desert Island’s solid waste stream,” Lunt wrote.
He added that the ADD is “perfectly situated to make the most effective use of the monies authorized in the Boundary Act.”
For years, the ADD has been contemplating the creation of a regional solid waste transfer station on or near Mount Desert Island.
The ADD is a consortium of the towns of Mount Desert, Tremont, Trenton, Cranberry Isles and Frenchboro.