FOA Purchases Property in Trenton as Workforce Housing for Acadia & Partners

The six existing townhomes will be used as housing for Island Explorer bus drivers beginning in 2025.

BAR HARBOR, MAINE—Friends of Acadia took another step toward helping solve the workforce housing crisis for Acadia National Park and its partners last week when it became the official owner of 18 acres in five adjacent parcels of land at 39 Jordan River Road in Trenton, ME.

The Jordan River Road property includes six two-bedroom townhomes that were built in 1985. Friends of Acadia plans to renovate and convert those townhomes to seasonal workforce housing for Acadia National Park and its partners, with first priority for Downeast Transportation’s Island Explorer bus drivers in 2025.

Overlooking a 156-acre nature preserve, the Jordan River Road property also includes three .92-acre lots and one 14-acre lot that are currently undeveloped—offering expansion opportunities in the future for additional seasonal and year-round workforce housing for Acadia National Park and its partners.

Friends of Acadia will continue to pay full property taxes on the property. However, the conservation nonprofit plans to outsource the leasing and day-to-day management of the property to a third party who will work directly with individual seasonal employees housed there.

“This is an ideal location for Island Explorer’s seasonal employees given that it’s only about a mile from Downeast Transportation headquarters and the new Acadia Gateway Center,” said Friends of Acadia President and CEO Eric Stiles. “We are pleased to provide workforce housing that helps Downeast Transportation find, recruit, and retain Island Explorer bus drivers, especially knowing that we’ll need an increased number of buses and drivers when the Acadia Gateway Center opens next spring.”

Purchase of the Jordan River Road property is part of Friends of Acadia’s partnership with Acadia and its partners—Friends of Acadia and Downeast Transportation/Island Explorer—to expand seasonal workforce housing and help address the severe workforce housing shortage on MDI and surrounding communities. Both Acadia National Park and Downeast Transportation have had serious difficulty attracting seasonal workers in recent years, and the lack of affordable workforce housing is a key factor.

“We’re absolutely thrilled that Friends of Acadia is able to help provide seasonal workforce housing, and that they are giving first priority to our bus drivers next year,” said Downeast Transportation Executive Director Paul Murphy. “Having housing options for bus drivers when we begin recruiting is critical. We can’t hire enough people without it.”

Downeast Transportation aims to hire about 120 seasonal bus drivers to operate the Island Explorer. For the last couple of years, they’ve had a shortage of between 25-40 drivers. And Acadia National Park’s Transportation Plan calls for expansion of Island Explorer routes and service with the opening of the Acadia Gateway Center in the spring of 2025.

“We will need even more drivers to meet the needs of the park and surrounding communities in 2025 and beyond,” Murphy added. “This really helps.”

“While we have no immediate plans for further development on this site, the future development opportunity was a key attractor,” said Stiles. “We look forward to working with our partners at the park and Downeast Transportation, and in consultation with the neighbors, the town of Trenton, and Frenchman Bay Conservancy to create a master plan for future development that has both seasonal and year-round housing.”

Additional Coverage:

Much-needed housing acquired for Acadia’s Island Explorer bus drivers – via MaineBiz

Former golf course condos to house Acadia bus drivers – via Bangor Daily News

Friends of Acadia purchases Trenton property for workforce housing – via Mount Desert Islander

Learn more about Friends of Acadia’s efforts to provide seasonal workforce housing for Acadia National Park and partners.