Ferry terminal meeting is set

BAR HARBOR — Use of the international ferry terminal property on Route 3 will be the subject of a public meeting March 10 at 6 p.m. with consultants Bermello, Ajamil and Associates (B&A).

The Canadian crown corporation Marine Atlantic owns the idle facility and has been in talks with the Maine Port Authority (MPA) since 2012 about a purchase. Voters passed a state transportation bond last fall that included funds for the deal.

If the lease-purchase agreement is completed in time, the facility could be used to land tenders from cruise ships as early as this season.

“The Port Authority has successfully negotiated – but not completed – its lease-purchase agreement with Marine Atlantic,” State Rep. Brian Hubbell said in an email following a meeting with the MPA and Cruise Maine leaders last week. It’s possible that tender operations could begin there this year, he wrote, “but that will require some infrastructure improvements including floats and docks.”

Port Authority representatives John Henshaw and Jonathan Nass said they welcome public comment and suggestions about the ferry terminal, according to Hubbell. They also plan to coordinate with Acadia National Park on long-range plans, as park officials are currently at work on a transportation study.

B&A has conducted several studies of the ferry terminal property. The current project, approved by the Town Council last winter and paid for by the town, the MPA and the Chamber of Commerce, seeks to create a business plan for operations at the site. A first phase of site development may include parking and traffic facilities and possibly some related marine and commercial uses, Hubbell said.

“It’s a first pass at looking at the operational side of the ferry terminal,” said Eben Salvatore, chairman of the town’s Cruise Ship Committee and representative of Ocean Properties Ltd. (OPL), which is involved with tender operations from cruise ships.

Bay Ferries Ltd., operators of The Cat, ended service between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth, N.S., in 2009. The facility has been idle since.

At the same meeting March 10, Louis Ajamil of B&A also will present results of a community survey and implementation plan for a proposed parking garage for the “backyard parking lot” behind the West Street Hotel.

Councilors approved $10,000 in October for the latest phase of the parking garage study. OPL, which owns the hotel and would finance and own part of the proposed structure, agreed to pay the other half of the $20,000 study.

A public meeting was held in November to present and gather feedback. B&A circulated online and paper surveys about parking challenges and about the proposed garage.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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