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Longtime Maine Acadia Concession Operator Loses Appeal
03/17/2014   Reported By: Jay Field

A Bar Harbor company that ran concessions in Acadia National Park has lost an appeal in federal court of the goverment's decision last year to award the contract to an out-of-state provider. Acadia Corporation operated for 80 years at the park, running popular sites like the Jordan Pond House restaurant. Though Congress is still reviewing the contract, the court ruling appears to pave the way for Ortega National Parks LLC to begin running concessions at Acadia this spring. Jay Field has more.

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In its claim, Acadia Corp had argued, among other things, that Dawnland, a subsidiary of New Mexico-based Ortega National Parks, LLC, had made numerous promises that it wouldn't be able to keep - such as saying it would serve native sturgeon roe on the menu at the Jordan Pond House. Maine's two sturgeon species are threatened and endangered.

"We know that on Friday, after hearing all the facts in the case, the court issued a decision in favor of the National Park Service," says Jonathan Meade, of the National Park Service.

A redacted copy of the judge's decision isn't expected to be released until later this week, but Meade, who runs business services for the Northeast region of the National Park Service, says the ruling moves the service one step closer to finalizing the Acadia contract.

"We're still awaiting the remainder of the 60-day, Congressional notification period, until we can - the National Park Service can - issue the contract, fully, to Dawnland," Meade says.

Acadia Corp ran concessions in the park for 80 years, and all four members of Maine's congressional delegation have questioned the process that led to an out-of-state company getting the deal. Earlier this month, Sen. Angus King sent a letter to the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee, asking it to look into contracting pratices at the park service.

David Woodside, Acadia Corp's president, says he's been in touch with staffers for both Sens. King and Susan Collins. "They did say that they intend to press forward with questioning, and so forth, of the process," he says.

But Woodside says last week's court ruling seems pretty final to him. "I honestly don't hold out a lot of optimism at this point," he says.

The review period for the Acadia contract expires in early April. Assuming Congress signs off on the deal, the next question is whether Dawnland will be able to open all of the park concessions on schedule by May. A call and e-mail by MPBN to Dawnland's parent, Ortega National Parks, LLC, were not returned by airtime.

But in an e-mail to the Bangor Daily News, Shane Ortega, the company's president, said most concessions in the park would likely be up and running by mid-May. Ortega went on to note that the Jordan Pond House restaurant may not open until the first few days of June.


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