Project Period

September 1, 1997-February 29, 2000

Level of Access

Open-Access Report

Submission Date



Over the last six years, the University of Maine has made an unprecedented investment in its marine laboratory, the Darling Marine Center to benefit both University faculty and visiting researchers and their students. Facility improvements include many new laboratory and offices spaces, more research instrumentation, and basic support facilities such as a dining hall and new classrooms. The inauguration of a Visiting Investigation Program in 1991, the expansion of educational offerings, and the growth of a large undergraduate internship program, have resulted in a population explosion that shows no sign of abating. To set priorities for improvements, the University has involved visiting investigators and visiting out-of-state colleges in facility planning. Based on their recommendation, housing has been targeted as the greatest facility weakness. The Center's housing is primitive, overcrowed, and woefully inadequate and this deficiency is restricting the growth of both educational and research programs that impact a growing community of visiting faculty and students. The University's Department of Environmental Health & Safety has issued unfavorable reports on the status of much of the Center's housing, mostly due to inadequate fire protection and ADA- access. Most housing is of cottage construction and is restricted to summer use. Some housing lacks both heat and running water. In order to temporarily meet housing demand, every available space has been converted to bunk space throughout 11 separate building. Due to the age and condition of many of these structures, modernization would be largely cost prohibitive. While the Center now has beds for 60 people during the warm weathers months, year-round housing will currently accommodate only 18 students. The Center's growing educational and Visiting Investigator programs are being severely hindered by this housing shortage, resulting in schedule juggling and restrictions on the number of individual s and visiting college classes that can work on site at any given time. In addition, the dining hall, built in 1992, was designed to feed 35 people at a time but now must accommodate twice that number. 20-room dormitory to house visiting faculty and students year round will be constructed. Two previous FSML facility improvements awards to the University have been responsible for stimulating the number of visiting investigators to the Darling Center and making their visits more productive. In addition, the awards have helped immeasurably to encourage additional investments by the University and by local, citizens who support the Center through their private donations.