Next steps for ferry terminal include design

By Becky Pritchard

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BAR HARBOR — Landscape architect firm Coplon Associates of Bar Harbor is set to create a conceptual design for the Eden Street ferry terminal property. The design contract is the next step in the town’s process to decide whether to accept a proposal form Bay Ferries, Ltd. to provide international ferry service to Canada.

The conceptual design will include an international ferry and parking area to accommodate 200 cars, while also preserving space for future waterfront development.

The council is set to decide by Oct. 2 whether or not to accept Bay Ferries proposal to resume ferry service to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The company operated here for several years before the service halted in 2009.

Bay Ferries proposes to enter into a five year lease with the town of Bar Harbor, to begin next year. They propose to pay the town a minimum rent of $200,000 per year, and invest $3 million in the ferry terminal.

A negotiating team comprised of Town Manager Cornell Knight, town councilor Gary Friedman, and Town Attorney Edmond Bearor was appointed at a previous meeting to negotiate a possible agreement with Bay Ferries on behalf of the town.

Knight said Coplon Associates had been chosen for the project because they have worked with the town in the past. He said the estimated cost of the landscape design work is $10,000, with Bay Ferries contributing $5,000 toward that cost.

“I do have a lot of concerns,” councilor Joe Minutolo said. “Customs says the [old ferry terminal] building may not be fit. I’m concerned about security, and what different agencies will require.”

Knight said he will be meeting with Customs and Border Protection next week to discuss requirements in resuming international ferry service, and hoped to have many of those questions answered.

Councilor Matthew Hochman spoke in favor of the plan. He said the design will help the council make a decision whether or not to accept Bay Ferries’ proposal by the Oct. 2 deadline. “I think this… is the start to make sure we have the information and we do this properly,” he said.

The town council approved a contract with Coplon Associates at their Aug. 7 meeting in a 5-1 vote. Councilor Erin Cough cast the dissenting vote, saying she would prefer the town seek several bids.

“Just because we’re used one vendor in the past, I don’t think that ropes us into using them over and over again,” she said. “I would like to see options.”

Knight said there is a provision in the purchasing policy that allows the town to select a vendor without going through a bidding process; exemptions from competitive bidding include contracts for professional services.

A steering committee made up of Knight, Harbormaster Charlie Phippen, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Martha Searchfield, town Finance Director Stan Harmon, and resident Tom Crikelair has recommended the conceptual landscape design as a next step.

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