ACADIA NAT’L PARK — The park’s long-awaited long-range transportation plan is expected to be unveiled around May 1, according to Superintendent Kevin Schneider.
“There will be a 45-day public comment period on it, and we will have public meetings in the communities on Mount Desert Island and the Schoodic Peninsula,” he said.
Work began in 2015 on the comprehensive transportation plan, which is intended to alleviate summertime parking and traffic congestion.
The team of about 20 park officials and outside experts who developed the plan, with considerable public input, finished their work weeks ago. But release of the plan has been awaiting final approval by National Park Service officials in Washington, D.C.
Visitor center rehab
A major rehabilitation of the Hulls Cove Visitor Center is expected to begin sometime after the facility closes Oct. 31. Deputy Superintendent Mike Madell told the Acadia Advisory Commission earlier this month that the makeover is currently in the design phase.
Acadia officials have talked in the past about the possibility of building a new park headquarters and visitor center complex at the Hulls Cove site. Given that the park has what Madell called “different visions for that area as time goes on,” he said some might question why the existing visitor center is being rehabilitated.
The reason, he said, is that whatever is decided about the future use of the Hulls Cove site, the park is unlikely to have the resources to undertake a major construction project anytime soon.
“So, this project that is currently in planning is intended to buy us about another 10 years of use of the building,” he said.
On most days in the summer, the visitor center is packed and there are long lines for entrance passes and information. Much of the reconfiguration of the building will be designed to improve circulation “and hopefully make for a little better experience for visitors,” Madell said.
He said the small theater where a free, 15-minute introduction-to-Acadia audiovisual program is shown every half hour probably will be removed, and the retail shop where books, videos and souvenirs are sold will move into that part of the building.
The Hulls Cove Visitor Center opened in 1968. Two renovation and expansion projects were completed in the 1990s.
Sieur de Monts flooding
Park facilities crews this spring will assess any damage to the Nature Center and the restrooms at Sieur de Monts Spring caused by flooding earlier this winter.
Madell said the flood100
waters, which subsequently froze, very likely resulted in some damage.
“But we don’t know what yet,” he said. “We need to let the water and ice get out of there and then get in and do an assessment. But almost certainly we’re going to have some maintenance work to do there. And depending on how extensive it is, it could sidetrack some other [maintenance] projects.”