A number of improvements that will benefit cruise visitors are under way in Maine’s Bar Harbor. They range from a walking tour of historic spots to further upgrades at the town gateway where passengers alight from tenders.
That gateway, Harborview Park, added an information booth (pictured) last season that chalked up 32,000 visits. Now a design and development process is beginning that would fix the park’s grading and replace aging planters and benches to make the spot "a little bit more celebratory," in the words of Anne Krieg, Bar Harbor's planning director.
Signs are in production for "Museum in the Streets," a walking tour that will highlight 20 historic locations such as the Abbe Museum of Native American culture and the Italian fountain on the Village Green that was donated by "rusticators," the city folk who came to Maine early last century and before to savor the rustic life.
In connection with the project, a tour map for self guiding that was produced last season with funds from Bar Harbor's cruise ship development fees will be upgraded. The "Museum in the Streets" project is intended to be ready in mid-August.
In another move, after implementing a new drop-off point on the Village Green last year for passengers returning from excursions, Bar Harbor is sprucing up the way the drop-off is blocked out to make it more attractive, Krieg said.
Also, the Maine Department of Transportation has solicited community recommendations for the redesign of Route 3, the main artery into Bar Harbor's downtown area. The approximately six-mile stretch of road that is frequented by tour buses, cars, bicyclists and pedestrians is in poor shape and may benefit from improvements like bike lanes or pathways.
Krieg said the DOT aims to start funding work that would begin in 2013 on what likely will be a multi-year project. She noted Route 3 already received a new top coat to ease the bumps, and that will have "a positive impact on our cruise passengers."
In May the town participated in a US Coast Guard mass rescue operation exercise that involved Royal Caribbean officials and some 38 local, state and federal agencies. The exercise, to enhance public safety training and response, "was a good experience for everybody," according to Krieg.
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