WINTER HARBOR — A new entity created by the Schoodic Institute – the Schoodic Marine Center – will include a dock for ferries from Bar Harbor, a whale exhibit, bike rentals and educational offerings. Artifacts from the former Bar Harbor Whale Museum will be on display.
The center will be developed in two phases, according to the president of the center, former Acadia National Park Superintendent Sheridan Steele.
He said the focus this season will be on sprucing up the property, the former Winter Harbor Marina on Sargent Street.
The Schoodic Marine Center is advertising for a year-round manager/dock master to oversee day-to-day operations.
Phase 2, Steele told about 30 people who gathered for a meeting with the Board of Selectmen April 19, will involve developing an education center at the Sargent Street site.
He said the public’s thoughts on Phase 2 will be solicited at an open meeting Monday, May 9, from 2:30-4:30 p.m. at Hammond Hall.
“We will have an update on our plans and will ask the community for their ideas,” Steele said.
The Schoodic Institute is located in Acadia National Park on the Schoodic Peninsula and is focused on research, learning and citizen science.
The institute, under its new entity, Schoodic Marine Center, signed a 20-year release on the property with an option to renew for an additional 20 years.
Steele said the Schoodic Marine Center will have an educational component as well, although it will continue to be operated as a marina with ramps and moorings.
Two ferries are scheduled to make up to a half dozen round trips each a day from the pier during the height of the season, he said.
One ferry will be operated by Downeast Windjammers and will transport passengers between Winter Harbor and the Bar Harbor Inn.
The second ferry will be operated by Kaitlyn Mullen and will transport passengers from Winter Harbor to College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor and back.
Both ferries are scheduled to operate from Memorial Day to Columbus Day, the same period during which the National Park Service will open its new, nearly 100-site campground on the Schoodic Peninsula.
Steele said the educational component at the Schoodic Marine Center will begin with artifacts from a whale museum that once were on exhibit at College of the Atlantic.
He said the initial work on the property includes possibly removing a fuel tank, making repairs to the pier and adding floats.
It already had been announced that a second Island Explorer bus will be added to enable trips every half hour from the ferry, campground and other locations on the Schoodic Peninsula.
Steele said the Island Explorer bus will have a longer schedule, operating from Memorial Day to Columbus Day.
One resident, Danny Backman, asked that the ferry operators maintain a set route when crossing Frenchman Bay instead of changing course.
Otherwise, “they can make enemies,” said Backman, a lobster fisherman.
Resident Pearl Barto, who lives not far from the marina on Sargent Street, said she was concerned about the increased traffic.
She asked that some thought be given to making the location “pedestrian friendly.”
Terry Bickford, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said the board has talked about the availability of Scenic Byway funds to put in sidewalks.
Steele said another option is a bicycle and pedestrian path leading from the ferry and across to the first trail within the new Schoodic Woods campground.