ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — Acadia National Park will receive more than $8 million in federal stimulus funds.
The $8.3 million award is part of the $750 million the National Park Service will invest in parks around the country and will fund five maintenance, repair and improvement projects at Acadia.
“We’re very excited and very pleased with the award,” said Len Bobinchock, assistant superintendent at the park. “This is a terrific opportunity to get a lot of work done, to help stimulate the economy and get some people working.”
The park has been working on the plans for the five projects for the past several months, according to Jim Vekasi, chief of maintenance at the park. Two of those projects are major ones that will use most of the stimulus funds, Vekasi said.
The largest project, he said, will involve improvements at the Schoodic Educational and Research Center at the former U.S. Navy installation which the park took over in 2002. The project involves removing unnecessary pavement in some areas of the center and repairing the roads and parking lots that remain.
Vekasi said the changes are part of the conversion of the site from a Navy base to more of a campus setting. “There is a large parking area adjacent to a building we’re planning to remove,” he said.
“We’re trying to make it a whole lot easier to park your car and walk to the facilities,” he said. “It’s a change in the paradigm from getting into a car and driving somewhere, to parking your car and taking a short pleasant walk.”
The project, which will use about $5 million of the stimulus funds, also will include improvements to the pedestrian trails, signs and lighting.
The second major project, using $2.2 million, will continue the road improvements in the Mount Desert Island section of the park. The park has been working on the roads for the past five years and has made improvements to most of the Park Loop Road, Vekasi said. The funding will allow the park to finish work on the Loop Road and to work on some of the side roads and parking lots.
The remaining funds will be used to repair culverts throughout the park, making sure they are adequate to handle the water flows and, where needed, to improve crossings for wildlife, particularly fish, to make sure they can get up and down stream.
Funds also will be used to remove some buildings that are no longer needed and to repair or replace road signs and informational signs in the park. Vekasi explained that the three buildings to be removed are located on land acquired by the park from willing sellers. After the buildings are demolished and removed, the land will be restored to a natural setting.
The funded projects will have a big impact on the park, Vekasi said.
“What we’re looking at is getting a conversion from use as a Navy base for the military to an educational campus and having close to 100 percent of the park roads in good condition,” he said. “That’s two pretty big things.”
Vekasi said that the park has been working on the plans for these projects for some time and that some level of planning and design work has been done on all of the projects. At least some of them will be started this summer.
Although park crews will do some of the work, the park will contract with private contractors to handle most of the planned construction work for the projects, he said.