Bar Harbor goes with The CAT over local ferry service

Posted by on Aug 10, 2018 in Local News | Comments Off on Bar Harbor goes with The CAT over local ferry service

The Bar Harbor Town Council rejected a proposal from Downeast Windjammer Cruise Lines owner Steve Pagels to establish a car ferry service between Bar Harbor and Nova Scotia.

The Bangor Daily News reported the council cited lack of details in the proposal. The council instead proceeded with planning for Bay Ferries Ltd., owner of The CAT ferry, to move to the former ferry terminal site that residents voted to buy in June.

In the council’s 5-1 vote, dissenter Erin Cough said she disliked how councilors were proceeding with plans without soliciting competing bids.

After meeting with Bay Ferries Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Mark MacDonald and Atlantic Fleet Services Corp. owner Annette Higgins on July 17, the Bar Harbor Town Council voted to negotiate with Bay Ferries regarding its proposal to reinstitute ferry service between Bar Harbor and Nova Scotia. Bay Ferries’ proposal is for a $1 million, five-year lease of the town-owned marine terminal in order to restore high-speed ferry service to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

The Prince Edward Island company said in the proposal that it would operate The CAT ferry from the vacant Eden Street terminal and pay rent of at least $200,000 per year. The company would also make $3 million in improvements to the property, including a dock ramp, pilings, building renovations and parking upgrades.

Service would start in June 2019, according to the proposal, using the 349-foot catamaran known as The CAT that Bay Ferries currently runs between Nova Scotia and Portland. The Portland-to-Nova-Scotia service would be discontinued.

At that same meeting, however, the council heard from Pagels, who runs his windjammer cruise operation in Bar Harbor. Pagels questioned the town’s process of accepting a proposal from Bay Ferries without issuing a solicitation of proposals, which would have allowed him to draft his own in a timely manner.

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