Great Meadow Update and Acadia Affordable Workforce Grant Discussed
BAR HARBOR—The Bar Harbor Conservation Commission met via Zoom Tuesday night as its three current members tried to work despite not having a quorum, reviewing past notes and minutes without approving them officially and speaking about the town’s open space plan, Great Meadow Research project, and Acadia Affordable Workforce Grant.
It might be the friendliest town entity in Bar Harbor as they welcomed viewers by name and even asked if they had anything to add. Jacquie Colburn, Ted Koffman, and Christian Barter discussed recruiting members for the four open spaces on the commission which is charged with
Koffman said he has calls out to potential members and has even offered coffee for people to discuss possibly serving on the commission.
ACADIA AFFORDABLE WORKFORCE HOUSING BILL
Earlier this year, Senator Angus King (I-Maine) sponsored the Acadia Affordable Workforce Housing Bill in his role as chairman of the Senate National Parks Subcommittee. It has passed through the Energy and Natural Resources Committee with bipartisan approval in July.
If passed by the senate, the bill would transfer 55.3 acres of undeveloped land in Town Hill that is currently part of Acadia National Park. About 15 acres of the parcel would be retained by the National Park Service to build staff housing. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) cosponsored the bill, which is also supported by the National Park Service.
Koffman said the Island Trust is interested in working with the town about the project. However, he believes that the land doesn’t currently have access to it.
“It’s going to be a project right there trying to get into the property,” Koffman said. Koffman also said because of the land’s nature, they’ll also have to determine what portions are buildable.
“Lots of vernal pools throughout it I’m sure,” Koffman said, “but enough to build houses.”
Colburn said that the bill was “slowly working its way through” Congress. “It’s still going to be a little while.”
The land was originally conveyed in 1986 for a solid waste transfer station that was never built. The legislation would tweak that original boundary act that conveyed the land for free to the Town of Bar Harbor.
King said in a July press release, “From the National Park to Bar Harbor businesses, every part of MDI’s economy is currently feeling the squeeze of a significant affordable worker housing shortage – causing businesses to run limited hours, or even shut their doors completely. This bipartisan bill will directly address the housing crisis facing the community and create more year-round and seasonal staff housing for both the park and the island’s towns. Along with helping businesses hire and retain workers, it will give more of the Island’s people the ability to live and work in the place they love. New affordable housing is one of the most meaningful investments we can make in the success of the region, and I’m grateful for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s overwhelming support of this legislation – it’s a testament to value of MDI and the importance of the effort.”
GREAT MEADOW RESTORATION GRANT
The commission also discussed the Great Meadow Restoration Grant. The $500,000 grant would go towards the Great Meadow Wetland and is part of a larger federal bill that is focused on the stewardship and conservation of public lands in the United States.
The meadow is by the Park Loop Road and Sieur De Monts Spring and a major stopping spot for vehicles on the road for photos. It’s connected to multiple streams, ponds, the Cromwell Brook watershed, Tarn and multiple wetlands. Past modifications, including those by George Dorr, a founder of the park, has “altered the flow of water through the wetland, impairing its ability to act as a wetland and allowing non-native species to thrive,” according to the Friends of Acadia website.
Friends of Acadia and Schoodic Institute have both put a great deal of effort into the restoration of the area. National Parks Service Director Chuck Sams held a press conference there in August.
At the Monday night meeting, Barter said, “I think everything is progressing along in a pretty good timeline.” He said that there are significant upgrades and that you’ll be able to walk right into town on the trails. He added that the interdisciplinary team had a visit from the representative from the Army Corps of Engineers and that a large culvert on Ledgelawn Extension where the road meets park property is going to be replaced with a different style of culvert that will drain properly. A number of smaller culverts along the Park Loop Road as it passes the meadow will also be replaced in a way to manage the flow in a manner that’s more natural, he said.
Hemlock Road, the abandoned road behind Sieurs De Mont, will probably have some replacements of culverts.
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