ACADIA NATIONAL PARK — To highlight the potential impacts that a proposed ecoresort could have on Schoodic Point, Friends of Acadia took a dozen people on a tour Sunday of the park land on the peninsula.
Stephanie Clement, conservation director for the Friends, drove the group, including several Sierra Club members, up to the top of Schoodic Head in a rented passenger van. At the top, she said the effects of building a resort on 3,300 acres owned by Winter Harbor Properties next to the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park would be readily visible from the hill, which sits about 400 feet above the shoreline.
“To me, this is one of the more spectacular views of Acadia,” Clement said as the group looked north toward the village of Winter Harbor. While the group took in the view, Mount Desert Island and Frenchman Bay were visible to the west, Petit Manan Island and the Washington County coastline lay to the east, and the forestland and mountains of interior Hancock County could be seen to the north.
Winter Harbor Properties consists of more than 20 investors, most of whom are from Europe, according to representatives of the group.
Clement said the development proposal — which could include a golf course, a hotel, a lodge and as many as 1,000 homes — could result in hikers in the park hearing barking dogs and lawn mowers from the nearby development. It also could reduce visibility of the nighttime sky at Schoodic, which Clement said has some of the best stargazing on the East Coast.
“As you stand here now, you hear the wind,” Clement said. “We’d hate to see that quality of the night sky change.”
Clement said the developers have been approached by conservation groups that are interested in buying the land and conserving it, but those offers have “gone nowhere.” She said that the Friends group believes the development group might be considering possible changes to what it suggested publicly last spring, but that she is not sure what the status of the project is.
“It’s possible that the project will change completely,” Clement said. “We don’t know.”
Frank Robey, a Stoneham resident in western Maine and a member of the executive committee of the state’s Sierra Club chapter, said that the environmental organization has yet to take a position on the project.
“The [potential] impacts are huge,” Robey said. “We’ll have to see what [the developers] come back with.”
Representatives of the development group have said that the project could help revitalize the economy of the area, which has suffered since a Navy base closed there in 2002, and that Winter Harbor Properties intends to be responsive to the concerns of nearby residents and landowners as it refines the proposal.
Mike Saxl, spokesman for the Winter Harbor Properties investment group, declined to comment on the project when contacted by phone Sunday evening.
Attempts Sunday evening to contact other representatives of the development group were unsuccessful.