BAR HARBOR — It might be next spring before there is a parking lot at Stone Barn Farm on Crooked Road, whose two miles of trails have become quite popular since Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) acquired the 128-acre property last year.
“People are already using it left and right,” said Douglas McMullin, MCHT’s regional stewardship manager. “If they go behind the barn, they find a kiosk where the trail starts, and that sort of welcomes folks to check out the property.
“But we’re going to hold off on any official grand opening until the parking lot is in and we have adequate space for cars and people.”
The plan is to create a non-paved lot for perhaps 25-30 cars initially on a small lot just west of the stone barn that MCHT also purchased last year. There is currently very little space for parking at the stone barn.
“That quickly gets overloaded, and we are concerned that if we invite more people there before the parking is done, we could create a dangerous situation along Crooked Road,” McMullin said.
As for the proposed parking lot, he said, “We’re looking to see what we can do that would be reasonably aesthetic…and save as many of the nicer trees as we can.”
The stone barn, which was built more than 100 years ago, is showing its age and needs some work.
“As lovely as the barn is, there are a number of structural deficiencies,” McMullin said. “It’s built very lightly, and it has a lot of deferred maintenance. There’s going to be quite a bit of work just to make sure the building is sound and that it’s safe.”
He said architect Carla Haskell, owner of Design Group Collaborative in Ellsworth, has evaluated the structure and is working on renovation plans.
“The idea is that we could put it out for bid in spring of 2021,” McMullin said. “But then how fast we can get someone to start working there is anybody’s guess…probably not before middle of next year and maybe longer.
“We’re not trying to turn it into some elaborate event space,” he said of the barn. “But we would like it to be available for small, low-key gatherings.”
McMullin said the farmhouse near the barn, which was built in the mid-1800s, also needs a lot of work.
“But it’s pretty tough to get contracting right now, and materials prices are sky high, so it’s probably best we’re taking our time with that. That’s going to be a fairly major renovation.”
MCHT officials said in August 2019 that they were trying to raise $2.25 million to cover the purchase of the Stone Barn Farm, as well as long-term maintenance and programs for the public.
“As we learned more about the buildings and what it’s going to take to take care of them…our fundraising goal has crept up,” said Misha Mytar, MCHT’s senior project manager for MDI.
“We raised enough money to purchase the property and get started, so we are in good shape. But in order to endow ourselves with enough funds to really take care of the barn and renovate the farmhouse, we’ve got about half a million dollars to go.
“That also includes endowing a part-time position so we will have someone to take care of the place.”
Mytar said a list of donors is posted on the kiosk at the start of the trail behind the stone barn.
“There have been about 200 donors for the effort already,” she said. “We’ve had donations at all levels, and people who aren’t traditionally Maine Coast Heritage Trust donors necessarily have contributed. We are just so appreciative.”