In March, Friends of Acadia became the official owner of the Kingsleigh Inn in Southwest Harbor. Formerly a bed and breakfast inn that housed visitors to Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park, Friends of Acadia plans to convert the inn to workforce housing for the park’s seasonal employees.
Though Friends of Acadia owns the property, it will be managed and operated by Acadia National Park in similar fashion to existing park housing. The building has eight bedrooms with adjoining bathrooms and a two-bedroom apartment, so the plan is to provide seasonal housing for ten employees. The property will remain on the town’s tax roll.
Friends of Acadia has partnered with the National Park Service (NPS) to address the housing crisis on MDI and its surrounding communities. The housing shortage has a direct impact on Acadia’s ability to hire a seasonal workforce to provide a quality visitor experience, care for cultural and natural resources, make progress on diversity and inclusion initiatives, and advance other strategic priorities.
“Seasonal employees are essential to operating and providing visitor services in the park from May to November,” said Kevin Schneider, Acadia National Park’s superintendent.
“Last year, we were not able to fill all of our available seasonal positions largely because of the lack of housing options in and around Acadia. By expanding housing options, the Kingsleigh property will increase our capacity to recruit and retain seasonal staff members,” Schneider said. “We are incredibly grateful to Friends of Acadia for helping to support this need.”
Purchase of the Kingsleigh Inn falls within one of several strategies Friends of Acadia is taking in partnership with the NPS to expand seasonal workforce housing and address MDI’s housing crisis.
“Our goal is to add 130 new beds over the next decade for the park and its partners,” said Friends of Acadia President and CEO Eric Stiles. “We’ve developed a three-pronged approach that includes adding bedrooms to existing park units, repurposing commercial properties, like the Kingsleigh Inn, and constructing new housing units on sites within Acadia.
The housing crisis is not unique to Acadia National Park. Rather, it’s an issue faced by many parks throughout the National Park Service.
“Supporting our talented and dedicated staff is a key component of fulfilling the National Park Service mission to preserve and protect amazing places like Acadia National Park for the enjoyment of current and future visitors,” said Schneider.
“It will take all hands on deck to provide housing for our workforce on MDI and surrounding communities. In doing this work, we are not just addressing the housing problem, but also the equity issue. We’re removing a huge barrier to employment and helping to ensure that employment here remains available and affordable to all,” Stiles said.