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Maine's Acadia National Park to Get $33M for Demolition, New Maintenance Facilities

Mon February 27, 2023 - Northeast Edition #6
Mainebiz & NPS

The new maintenance operations complex is slated to be built at Acadia’s McFarland Hill headquarters on approximately 10 acres. (Rendering courtesy of the National Park Service)
The new maintenance operations complex is slated to be built at Acadia’s McFarland Hill headquarters on approximately 10 acres. (Rendering courtesy of the National Park Service)

The National Park Service (NPS) will invest $32.6 million to demolish outdated structures and build new maintenance facilities at Acadia National Park headquarters, Mainebiz reported Feb. 22.

Funded by the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), the project will provide park staff with enhanced facilities to better serve visitors and protect park resources.

Nickerson & O'Day Inc., a Bangor contractor, was awarded the job and is expected to start this spring, with completion expected in fall 2024.

The project will eliminate $4.4 million from deferred maintenance and repairs, NPS noted in a press release.

The new maintenance operations complex is slated to be built at Acadia's McFarland Hill headquarters on approximately 10 acres.

The contractor will demolish more than 20,000 sq. ft. of park structures that are considered unsafe, Mainebiz noted, and crews will build rooms for shops and a place to service equipment. In addition, the plan includes new restrooms, offices, storage areas, locker rooms, a break room, conference rooms, utility support spaces, a fuel station, vehicle storage, employee/staff parking and a wash bay.

NPS noted the construction will result in lower costs to heat and cool the new spaces, a decrease in fuel consumption, protection for equipment from the elements and improved accessibility within the Acadia complex.

Mainebiz noted that many park partnership programs operate out of the maintenance buildings, including volunteer programs that help maintain trails and historic carriage roads.

"It is impossible to overstate the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to operate a national park," Acadia National Park Superintendent Kevin Schneider said in the NPS news release. "Acadia's maintenance team works tirelessly to preserve roads and trails, conserve historic carriage roads and stone bridges, keep visitor centers clean and operational, [and] manage construction projects. The list goes on and on."

The current buildings no longer meet the park's needs, he explained, adding they are structurally unsound, undersized and inadequate for the workload, particularly given the considerable growth of the park's staff, operations and visitation since the facility was built in the 1960s.

The 150 people based at the site must use portable restrooms and temporary trailers to compensate.

Park Must Stay Ahead of Growing Popularity

Acadia National Park protects the natural beauty of the highest rocky headlands along the Atlantic coastline of the United States and features an abundance of rich habitats. It is found along the mid-section of the Maine coast, southwest of Bar Harbor. The park preserves about half of Mount Desert Island, part of the Isle au Haut, the tip of the Schoodic Peninsula, and portions of 16 smaller outlying islands.

In the last 10 years, park visitation has grown by an estimated 70 percent, according to NPS. In 2021, Acadia had 4.1 million visitors who spent an estimated $486 million and supported over 6,800 jobs and $702 million in economic output in the region.

The federal GAOA law, which Congress passed in 2020, is a conservation bill that includes $9.5 billion over five years to help catch up on a $12 billion maintenance backlog at all national parks.

Supported by revenue from energy development, GAOA's Legacy Restoration Fund provides the NPS with up to $1.3 billion annually for five years to make significant enhancements in national parks to ensure their preservation and provide opportunities for recreation, education, and enjoyment for current and future visitors.

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