ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — Now that the first part of the Acadia Gateway Center in Trenton has been completed and opened, park officials are looking toward the next installment.
Len Bobinchock, deputy superintendent of the national park, told the park’s advisory commission Monday that officials are beginning the design process for the second and third phases of the Route 3 facility, which serves as a maintenance and storage facility for the free, seasonal Island Explorer bus system.
Phase two would consist of 320 additional parking spaces for cars and similar vehicles and 10 spaces for larger recreational vehicles. The third phase would consist of a building that has public restrooms, a welcome center and space for local Chamber organizations to provide information about area amenities outside the park.
Bobinchock said the park’s share of the remaining phases is capped at $3 million, though it has not yet received all the funding. If an expected grant from the Federal Transit Agency comes through, he said, whatever part of it does not go toward the design process would go toward construction.
“We’re hopeful that grant will be awarded,” Bobinchock said. “It seems logical to do phases two and three at the same time.”
If the needed money comes through, he said, construction on the next phases could begin by the fall of 2013.
The advisory commission also listened to a presentation about ticks and Lyme disease from Charles Lubelczyk and Peter Rand of Maine Medical Center Research Institute in Scarborough. The commission had expressed concern about the spread of the tick-borne disease in Maine and had asked park officials last fall for more information about it.
Lubelczyk and Rand told the commission and others about how to minimize risk of coming into contact with possibly infected deer ticks, which they said are more commonly found in deciduous forests than among stands of spruce and fir trees.
The presentation led to questions about the deer population on Mount Desert Island, where hunting has been prohibited for decades. David Manski, head of Acadia’s resource management division, said that evidence in the 1990s suggested that the park’s deer population was in decline from prior decades, when the island’s deer population greatly expanded in the wake of the 1947 fire that swept over much of eastern MDI.
Bar Harbor resident Matt Horton, who recently was appointed to the commission by Gov. Paul LePage, responded to Manski by saying he thinks MDI is overrun with deer because of the lack of hunting on the island.
“There’s no reason why there can’t be some sort of limited hunt on Mount Desert Island,” Horton said, eliciting nods from several attendees in the room.
Commission chairman Steve Katona pointed out that the commission can advise only on issues that involve the park and that any special hunt on MDI would have to be arranged by the state and towns.
Horton clarified his comment to indicate that he is not advocating for hunting deer inside the park. He said he hopes the park could work with towns and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in determining whether a deer hunt on MDI outside park boundaries might be feasible and sensible.
Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.