ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — The Schoodic Education Research Center will receive almost $4.7 million in federal stimulus funds to complete the conversion of the former Winter Harbor Navy base into a natural science research center.
The $4,682,000 allocation comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the U.S. Department of Interior and the National Park Service.
According to Len Bobinchok, deputy superintendent at Acadia National Park, the funds will be used to complete the work of converting the site from a military base to a more collegelike campus. The park took over the Navy base in 2002 and used other federal funds to convert the former commissary to a state-of-the-art center with communications equipment.
The federal funds will be combined with a $1 million donation from Winter Harbor summer resident Edith Robb Dixon, widow of philanthropist Fitz Eugene Dixon, to renovate the Rockefeller Building, which was constructed in 1935.
Work already has begun on the latest projects, Bobinchok said.
“These funds will be used for demolition and removal of some buildings that are no longer needed for the center and the rehabilitation of several buildings for classrooms and laboratories,” he said.
The work also will include removing some paved areas and realigning some of the roads.
“We’re changing it from an auto-dependent facility to a pedestrian-friendly community,” Bobinchok said.
The center, which is managed by Acadia Partners for Science and Learning, a nonprofit entity, has hosted a variety of programs at the facility. Although some programs will continue during the construction, Bobinchok said, new uses will be discouraged while the work is under way.
The influx of funds, he said, has accelerated work at the center.
“We’ve got 10 years of work that we’re compacting into two,” he said. “Normally, we would not get funding like this in one or two years.”
While the bulk of the work will be done this summer, Bobinchok said, the project likely will continue into next year. All stimulus funds must be spent before the end of 2011, and the park definitely will meet that deadline, he said.
U.S. Sens. Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins on Friday announced in a joint release that federal stimulus funds would be made available to the park.
“The Schoodic Education and Research Center will offer innovative educational programs that combine natural science research with field-based education,” they said. “This funding is terrific news and we are pleased to be strong supporters of this important project.”