WINTER HARBOR — As the summer season goes into high gear, tourists and local and seasonal residents boarding and disembarking from the two ferries and other vessels will find improved and expanded facilities at the Schoodic Marine Center.
Located off Sargent Street, at the head of Henry Cove, Schoodic Institute’s marina complex now features a wheelchair-accessible gangway at the pier, a laundry room, showers, exhibits, improved parking and a locally run food cart.
The new laundry and showers are the only facilities of their kind on the Schoodic Peninsula. They are now open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“These facilities will help preserve and expand water access for residents,” Schoodic Institute Director of Operations Danny Mitchell said Tuesday. “And hopefully create additional income streams for the town.”
Undertaken this past winter, the Schoodic Marine Center’s improvements were funded through funds privately gifted for the project to Schoodic Institute.
Open to the public, the laundry and showers are expected to be in demand from visitors vacationing at the Schoodic Woods Campground located in the Schoodic Peninsula section of Acadia National Park.
“Maybe not this winter, but we’re hoping to eventually stay open year-round,” said Schoodic Marine Center Manager Clifford Bisson. “This year we’ll stay open as long as the laundry facilities can pay for heat.”
The Schoodic Marine Center serves both the Schoodic Ferry and the Bar Harbor Ferry, which transport passengers daily from Winter Harbor to Bar Harbor across Frenchman Bay. Sea kayak outfitters and puffin cruises also operate from the pier.
A food stand offers a variety of food from burgers to the Vietnamese-style sandwiches called banh mi.
“We’ve made significant improvements to the visitor experience,” said Don Kent, president and CEO of the Schoodic Institute. “We’re also working to make sure that visitors understand what’s available not just in the park, but locally in towns on the peninsula.”
Kent said improvements to the Schoodic Marine Center will continue over the summer. Next up is the reroofing of the building currently housing a whale-related exhibit and short video clip from a recent oral history project in town. The bike rental business also will remain there.