One thing Congress can agree on…maybe

MOUNT DESRT ISLAND — When you say it’s going to take an act of Congress to get something done, that usually means it won’t be easy and will take a long time. 

But that might not be the case when it comes to authorizing the use of a 55-acre parcel of land owned by Acadia National Park in the Bar Harbor village of Town Hill for workforce housing. 

“As dysfunctional as Washington is, I think this would be something that wouldn’t engender a whole lot of partisan divide,” Mount Desert Town Manager Durlin Lunt said at Tuesday’s meeting of the Acadia-area League of Towns board. 

“It would be good for the park and also for the communities that surround the park.” 

The parcel in question isn’t adjacent to any other park land, and the park has no use for it. The 1986 legislation that established Acadia’s permanent boundary stipulated that the parcel be given to Bar Harbor for use as a regional solid waste transfer station. But it soon became clear that, for several reasons, that was not feasible. 

Now, Acadia officials have proposed giving 40 acres of the parcel to Island Housing Trust, which could build affordable housing for the community, and retaining 15 acres to build housing for permanent park employees. 

The town boards in all four Mount Desert Island towns have unanimously endorsed that concept. 

On Tuesday, at the League of Towns board meeting, Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider asked the four MDI town managers to send letters of support for the concept to Maine U.S. Sen. Angus King. King is chair of the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks.  

Schneider said he has been talking with Sen. King’s staff about what the legislation authorizing a new use for the Town Hill parcel might look like. He also noted that Maine 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree is chair of the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies of the House Committee on Appropriations.  

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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