Site work to start soon on workforce housing project

BAR HARBOR — Over the winter, Island Housing Trust (IHT) plans to clear land for an entrance road and begin site testing for septic systems and wells for the proposed Jones Marsh workforce housing neighborhood off Route 3 near the head of the island.

IHT bought 30 acres of upland at the marsh last year through a partnership with Maine Coast Heritage Trust, which will conserve the lower 30 acres of marshland.

IHT Executive Director Marla O’Byrne said the current plan is to build a mix of single-family homes and duplexes for a total of up to 10 residential units.

“We want to get started over the next year if at all possible,” she said. “We won’t build out the whole neighborhood at once. We’re going to build one house or duplex as a trial to see how that goes.”

O’Byrne said IHT wants the houses to be energy efficient.

“It’s good for environment and good for the owners as part of the affordability of the houses,” she said. “We’re looking at how to do that and still be able to sell the houses at a price that is affordable to someone with a median income on this island.

“We’ve been meeting with modular builders to see if they can scale up the modular design for more energy efficient, sustainable houses,” she continued. “We’ve also met with passive house builders and net zero builders to see if they can bring their designs back a little so they are more in the range of affordability but still have a tremendous quality of energy efficiency.”

IHT has been quietly raising money for the Jones Marsh neighborhood and O’Byrne said there will be a public fundraising campaign at some point. Once the road clearing and other infrastructure work begins, she said, “We can put a sign out on the site so that people can see where it is and start generating a little more awareness of the project and, hopefully, some enthusiasm as well.”

If that translates into a boost in fundraising, she said, “That will let us move forward more quickly.”

She said the first phase of the work, clearing the lots and putting in the road and driveways, is expected to cost around $300,000.

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]

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