Friends of Acadia purchase adds housing for park staff
BAR HARBOR, Maine (WABI) - Visitation in Acadia has jumped 70% in the last 10 years, bringing with it the need for more employees to help make sure park operations run as smoothly as possible.
But finding a place for employees to stay is a major issue for the park.
Friends of Acadia is a conservation organization that is now partnering with the National Park Service to help alleviate that problem for the upcoming season.
“The people that make the magic happen need a place to live,” said Eric Stiles, Friends of Acadia President and CEO.
Seasonal employees at Acadia National Park will be making their way to MDI within the next couple of weeks, as the park readies to once again welcome millions of visitors over the next six months.
But regardless of the arrival of a new season, workforce housing is still a familiar problem according to Park Superintendent Kevin Schneider.
“We hire 150 to 160 seasonals every summer,” Schneider said. “Right now, we only have about 90 beds park-wide for those summer seasonals. It’s almost impossible for anyone to come to Acadia National Park unless they have housing.”
In March, Friends of Acadia closed on what will be at least a partial solution, found in Southwest Harbor.
“Anyone that lives in this area recognizes that there’s less and less housing available,” said Stiles. “We purchased the Kingsleigh Inn, it will be operated and managed by the National Park Service so they’re going to be providing a lot of in kind for the care and feeding of this over time. So it is a significant step forward.”
“That housing is crucial,” Schneider added. “For our custodians, our trail crew, our interpretive rangers that work in the Visitor Center or law enforcement rangers or motor vehicle operators all really, really quite critical.”
Friends of Acadia says it hopes the purchase of the Kingsleigh Inn is just a first step toward a longer term solution for workforce housing in Acadia.
“The rent that the tenants living here will pay get put into a lockbox and get reinvested right back into the property,” said Stiles. “So there is a financial sustainability here.”
“The 10 beds are crucial and we’re really appreciative of friends of Acadia for providing this to us,” Schnieder said. “You know, this is going to really make a difference. It’s a beautiful facility and we want to make sure people have good quality housing.”
Acadia National Park is still hiring for the upcoming season season.
For more information, visit nps.gov/acadia
Copyright 2023 WABI. All rights reserved.