WINTER HARBOR — Visitors to the Schoodic Marine Center on Sargent Street can expect at least one noticeable improvement next year – restrooms.
There also might be better moorings and enhanced signage directing visitors who are arriving at and departing from the marina, said Sheridan Steele, CEO and president of the Schoodic Marine Center.
“Restrooms are probably the most immediate need,” he said. “We’re hoping we might have something by next summer. They will probably go where the temporary displays are now.”
The exhibit of whale artifacts is located in the building on the right-hand side of the property as the marina is approached from Sargent Street.
The Schoodic Marine Center, which is affiliated with the Schoodic Institute within Acadia National Park, now provides porta-toilets.
Other improvements likely to happen sooner rather than later, said Steele, who retired as superintendent of Acadia last year, include installation of a handicapped access gangway on the pier, paving the parking area and moving the L.L. Bean bus stop to the marina entrance.
The Schoodic Marine Center has held two public meetings about proposals for the marina. “We’ve gotten a lot of good ideas from individuals and organizations,” Steele said. “I see this with multiple partners.”
Among the likely partners are OceansWide summer camp, College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Frenchman Bay Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other conservation and community groups.
Steele said the issue in moving forward is funding.
“We’re trying to improve the marina facilities at the same time, but that doesn’t come quick either,” he said. “Right now, it’s all donations.”
He said the Schoodic Marine Center hopes to secure foundation grants to carry out many of the plans.
The Schoodic Institute’s board leased the marina to ensure water access for the institute and transportation across Frenchman Bay from Winter Harbor to Bar Harbor and back, Steele said.
The center has a 20-year lease, renewable for 20 years, with the Pettegrow family of Trenton.
He said that residents worried the marina might become part of Acadia National Park should have no worries. “The park has no interest whatsoever in seeing it within the park,” Steele said.
Steele said the center would like a food vendor in town to step in and offer to operate a food cart.
Showers and laundromats also have been discussed, but Steele said the board is still hoping someone local will provide those services, particularly for campers in the new Schoodic Woods Campground.
Steele said improvements are needed in signage on Route 186 heading into Winter Harbor that directs visitors to the marina and ferries.
A comprehensive plan will be ready by the end of 2017, he said.
Steele said the next step will be for him to meet with potential partners individually and then schedule another public meeting in the spring of 2017.