Moving on

If Punxatawney Phil had been following Bar Harbor news closely through November and then gone underground for awhile, he would have been flummoxed to appear Feb. 2 and hear we’re still talking about a berthing pier for cruise ships.

The ferry terminal property advisory committee that worked in the fall to research and weigh various possible uses for the former international ferry terminal recommended a “multi-use marine facility with optional tender boat landings from cruise ships.”

In accepting the report and recommendation, the Town Council did not have the option of waving a magic wand and declaring it so. Which was why, following the unanimous vote and applause, councilors urged patience.

The council took the first step of the many that will be required to bring that vision to reality, instructing the consultants to base their business plan on the committee recommendation.

Bermello, Ajamil and Partners’ business plan proposal, accepted by the council in December, reads: “These tasks will be executed consistent with the Bar Harbor Ferry Terminal Property Leadership Committee’s (sic) recommendations — as put forward in their Nov. 14, 2017 report to the Bar Harbor Town Council — to purchase the Ferry Property for $3.5 million with the intent to use it as a multi-use marine facility with optional tender boat landings from cruise ships.”

If they don’t do that, if the business plan comes back in April or May with recommendations for a berthing pier and no information about the type of facility envisioned by the advisory committee, then it will be the time to be concerned about improper influence from the cruise industry.

Because the council has made no firm, specific decisions about what the proposed new facility will look like, because they cannot responsibly do so without more information, some thought the advisory committee’s work was being rejected or ignored.

The town plans to pursue the advisory committee recommendation, as evinced by the business plan agreement, but some folks have taken that stated intention to mean both more, and less, than it does.

A “multi-use marine facility with optional tender boat landings from cruise ships” is the goal the next stages of the process will drive toward. That does not mean that every detail of the marine use subcommittee’s recommendations, or their cost models, will be followed. And it certainly doesn’t mean that creation of a Bar Harbor port authority still might not prove a useful option for financing such a facility.

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