ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — Maine’s only national park has a to-do list of maintenance projects that’s more than 350 items long, with a total price tag of about $59.8 million.
Every year the dollar figure attached to that list — which includes building repairs, cleaning culverts, road projects and more — changes slightly due to projected costs. For instance, last year it was $71 million, and in 2015 it was $68.3 million — but no one expects to complete all the projects.
That’s because deferred maintenance is a perennial issue at Acadia and other National Park Service properties across the country, which cumulatively have more than $11 billion worth of overdue work to maintain their facilities and infrastructure. The backlog of projects have become a cause of concern because of the tourism economies that develop around park service properties.
Despite Acadia’s sizeable impact on Maine’s summertime tourist economy, which is estimated to be close to $300 million, the park is unable to keep up with needed work.
Keith Johnston, the park’s head of facilities maintenance, said his current list of projects ranges in cost from a few thousand dollars to several million dollars. Some have been approved for funding by the park service but most have not due to the shortage of available funds.
Earlier this summer, U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine and other U.S. senators submitted a bill aimed at raising money to address the issue, while President Donald Trump has proposed paying for park repairs with revenue derived from energy produced on federal lands and waters.
One that has not gotten the green light is the biggest priority on Johnston’s list: replacing the aging maintenance operations building at the park’s headquarters on Eagle Lake Road. According to Johnston, the projected cost of constructing a new maintenance operations building is $20 million. The current one, built in the mid-1950s, is “beyond repair,” he said — largely because of relative lack of work that has been done on it over the decades.
A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....
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