BAR HARBOR — The permanent closure of a .7-mile stretch of Duck Brook Road from West Street Extension to the carriage road entrance received the unanimous support of the town council Tuesday.
The road has been closed since a retaining wall collapsed in 2012. Acadia National Park officials are now planning to make the closure permanent. While they do not need permission from the town for such a move, Acadia Chief of Maintenance Keith Johnston told councilors that the town’s input is an important part of the process.
“It’s important we don’t make decisions in a bubble,” he said.
The town’s water treatment plant is located near the Duck Brook Carriage Road entrance. Pipes carrying town water run under the closed section of the road. Councilors said Tuesday that as long as access to the lines is guaranteed, they saw no problems with the road being closed permanently.
Johnston said he had met with town public works officials to discuss the situation and that the park is prepared to make sure the town is accommodated.
“We’ve met with them several times, and we understand their concerns. The need for access is just as important for us as it is for them,” he said.
After the retaining wall along the road collapsed in 2012, park officials did not have funding to fix it, Johnston said. The entire section of road was then removed from federal funding programs. Since then, the park has allowed bicycle and pedestrian access only. People have seemed happy with that arrangement, Johnston said.
The town water station and the Duck Brook carriage road entrance can be accessed by vehicle from the other end of Duck Brook Road, which intersects with Eagle Lake Road. All plans point to keeping that section of road open and maintained.
Johnston was asked what the park’s plans were for the intersection of Duck Brook Road and West Street Extension. The area now contains concrete barriers blocking access. He said that the park plans to replace the barriers with something more visually pleasing. However, they will not build in any parking area, as policies call for no new parking spaces in the park, he said.
Come councilors wondered whether simply letting the paved road decay over time would be wise. Johnston said he imagined it would eventually be turned into a dirt road, but without much vehicle traffic, the current pavement would last for a long time.
No citizens turned out to comment during Tuesday’s public hearing.
Dick Cough of Bar Harbor turned in a letter to town councilors recommending turning the section of road into a carriage road. He further suggested closing vehicle access to the park from West Street Extension and bringing the proposed carriage road all the way to the intersection with Cleftstone Road. Several councilors expressed their support for the idea and urged Johnston to consider it.
ANP officials are still taking comment on the planned closure. Anyone interested in contributing an opinion may do so at parkplanning.nps.gov. Johnston may be contacted at 288-8750.