Park survey questioned

TREMONT — Acadia National Park officials want to conduct a new survey of a section of the town line between Tremont and Southwest Harbor, and selectmen here want to know why.

The park wants to resurvey the line between Ship Harbor and the Adams Bridge, an issue officials in both towns believed they settled in 2007. During discussion at a meeting on Monday, selectmen voted 4-0 to invite park officials and any abutting landowners to a future meeting to explain the need for another survey.

“I’m curious as to why it needs to be done,” said Selectman Kevin Buck. “It might be nice if they come and explain the reason for this.”

The line was surveyed three times, in 2002, 2004 and 2005. The 2005 survey was conducted and paid for by a developer who complained that several property owners in his Bass Harbor Woods subdivision lost a portion of their lots as the result of the 2004 survey by the park.

Town officials in both towns agreed that the true line was as detailed in the 2005 survey and, in January 2007, filed the survey in the Hancock Registry of Deeds.

The park didn’t protest at the time. In August, the issue resurfaced when park officials informed Tremont of their intent to resurvey the line.

More information about the park’s intent came from a Sept. 23 letter from Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider to Town Manager Dana Reed.

“The park feels it is important to make the concerted effort to conduct a new survey which will use data from all three of the past surveys to resolve the discrepancy in line locations,” Schneider wrote. “We propose the park pays for a new survey using a land surveyor suggested and approved of by the towns.”

On Wednesday, park spokesman John Kelly said the decision to conduct another survey did not come out of the blue.

“It may seem like it’s sudden that the park is interested again, but that’s not the case,” Kelly said. “It’s really an ongoing issue.”

Kelly said there are always boundary issues in the park; the line between Tremont and Southwest Harbor being only one of them. The park maintains a list of these issues and periodically revisits them, he said. The survey also might have come up during briefings about the park issues that Schneider had when he took over as superintendent earlier this year, he added.

The new survey was not prompted by any requests or challenges by abutting landowners in Tremont, Kelly said. Park officials have said there are about seven property owners on the Tremont side of the line.

Kelly admits the discrepancy between the surveys is not very much – about 5 to 10 feet of difference. Still, he said, the matter needs resolution.

“It’s no different from two neighbors disagreeing about a property line,” he said.

On Monday, Reed said he spoke with the town manager of Southwest Harbor and was told that town had no interest in the issue. All land along that section of line in Southwest Harbor is owned by the park and therefore not subject to property taxes.

The 2005 survey commissioned by the developer was done by CES Inc. The surveyor, Mike Avery, concluded his results differed from the Acadia National Park survey, primarily because two of the major landmarks – a large blue rock in Ship Harbor and the Adams Bridge on Route 102 – had moved since the line between the towns first was established in 1905. Avery claimed that 2004 survey by Plisga and Day, the company hired by the park, used the current positions of the rock and bridge when doing its survey.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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