BAR HARBOR — Business owners and managers upset with plans by the National Park Service to delay opening key parts of Acadia National Park have scheduled a public forum on the issue for Wednesday, April 24.
The Atlantic Oceanside on Eden Street, part of the Witham Family group of lodging establishments, has called the meeting for 6 p.m. at the Oceanside.
Notice of the session said the focus would be “to discuss this matter and to determine what other actions can be taken.”
In a media event at the Oceanside on Friday morning, more than two dozen area business leaders expressed dismay over the recently-announced decision by the park to begin charging the usual off-season entrance fees at the Sand Beach station on May 1, even though park visitor centers, restrooms, much of the Park Loop Road and the summit of Cadillac Mountain will remain shuttered until May 17.
Many decried the fact they were not given an opportunity to meet with park officials before the cuts were announced to search for ways to mitigate any negative economic affects.
At the Friday session, which was not attended by anyone from the park, Stephanie Clement, of Friends of Acadia, said that technically, all of Acadia is a fee area year-round although fees are usually only collected during the busier summer months. She added that while she could not speak for the park about their decisions, it was important for all parties to work together to lobby Congress for more funding and to find solutions.
Bar Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce officials and area business owners have been working hard to promote the car-free loop road as an incentive to visit during “Bike Acadia Month”
Acadia National Park officials have been invited to the meeting, but have not commented on whether they will attend.