The fish house on Otter Creek Cove owned by the Aid Society of Otter Creek. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Voters back village rebuke of Acadia

MOUNT DESERT — Five hours after the May 2 town meeting began, the last of the 75 articles on the warrant passed overwhelmingly by voice vote.

It was a resolution authorizing the Board of Selectmen to support a request by a committee of the Aid Society of Otter Creek that Acadia National Park honor its “original foundation principles.”

Those principles, the resolution stated, were embraced by the founders of the Hancock County Trustees for Public Reservations, which in 1903 began buying and accepting gifts of land that would form the core of Acadia. The land was to be held and maintained for “free public use.”

Otter Creek resident Steve Smith, who circulated the petition to place the resolution on the warrant, explained his reason at the town meeting.

“We’re a very small village that’s completely surrounded by the park. We have no clout with the park,” he said. “We’re asking the selectmen to help us so we can live in peace with the park and to support us on issues that we have to take up from time to time.”

When asked what some of the issues are, he mentioned disputes involving access to a small fish house that the Aid Society owns on Otter Creek Cove and a boat landing off Grover Avenue.

George Davis, vice president of the Aid Society, said the park has ignored the interests of Otter Creek residents for decades.

“We’re sick of it,” he said.

Noting that Acadia celebrated its centennial last year, Davis said, “And it took them 99 years before they would allow the people of Otter Creek to have an [official] trail from the village of Otter Creek to the water.”

He said there have long been informal, social trails.

“But if a tree fell and you cut a little opening in it, then you’d end up … in the federal courthouse in Bangor. That’s ridiculous.”

Speaking in support of the resolution, Seal Harbor resident Anne Funderburk said her grandfather was a founder of the Hancock County Trustees for Public Reservations and helped acquire land for Acadia. She said the trustees’ original statement of intent made it clear that “pieces of land that were good for farming and for having houses on them” were not to be placed in the park.

Funderburk said that applied to much of Otter Creek, which used to have good farm land.

“So, I think it is within reason for the town to support in some way the request of the citizens of Otter Creek to have the use of their land to make it livable,” Funderburk said. “This [resolution] would not be binding on the selectmen, but would be an expression of support for a small village that’s in a pretty tight square.”

Acadia spokesman John Kelly said Wednesday that park officials have met with the board of the Aid Society of Otter Creek on a regular basis over the past few years.

“We will continue to do that and will respond to whatever concerns or issues they raise with us, as we would with any other town or village,” Kelly said.

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]
Dick Broom

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