October 22, 2015 (Transportation Task Force)

Transportation Task Force
Meeting Notes
October 22, 2015
Islesford Neighborhood House on LCI at 4:00 P.M.

Meeting called to order at 4:00 P.M.

Members Present: Cory Duggan, Skip Stevens, Jason Pickering, Joy Sprague; By teleconference: Ron Axelrod, Paul Thormann, Chris White, Sam Donald

Other Present: Jim Fortune, Joanne Thormann; Charlie Norris by teleconference

Cory restated his comments from the previous TTF meeting, that the responsibilities of committee members. Subcommittee members who are not already elected MAC members need to be appointed by the Board of Selectmen. Only MAC members can beofficial committee members, unless otherwise appointed by the Selectmen. The Transportation Task Force has added some extra members this year, those folks will need to be approved by the Selectmen.

Committee members need to refrain from speaking with others as official members of the TTF subcommittee, and from representing the Town of the MAC unless previouslyrequested to do so by the committee. The Transportation Task Force would like to have a workshop with the Town Attorney so that they can better understand its role and responsibilities.

Discussion: Memos from Ron Axelrod and Charlie Norris:

Warrant Article 4 – Special Town Meeting – October 24, 2105

To see if the voters of the Town of Cranberry Isles will authorize the Municipal Officers to negotiate with individuals or entities as they may deem necessary to appropriate or secure ferry transportation service from Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor to Great Cranberry Island, Little Cranberry Island, and Sutton Island, provided that the product of said negotiations, if any, shall be subject to final approval of the voters of the Town of Cranberry Isles pursuant to a subsequent warrant article.

As we go through the process of developing a long term TCI Ferry Service, our municipal officers may be need to discuss with potential operators or owners of existing ferry/boating operations interests in being the long term ferry operations for TCI.

Because the public open meeting rules of town government often requires public notice of a meeting to discuss items, it may be difficult to discuss details and sensitive items with potential operators or owners. Therefore, this Warrant authorizes discussions by the municipal officers to these people.
The warrant does not authorize the municipal officers to approve any contract for service or acquisition. Approval can only come from the town at a special or regular yearly town meeting.
There are many operators and businesses that have expressed interest in our new ferry service, and this gives us the opportunity for municipal officers to discuss sale, operation, or other item relative to a new ferry service operation.

Purpose: The TTF initiated the Phase II long-term ferry planning process in April of 2015. Many of the intended Task Force and consultant tasks have been accomplished and discussed with TCI residents at Workshops in June and August. Several tasks remain to be completed by the TTF team for the TCI Ferry Plan Report to be completed for the coming year: a new detailed operations plan, implementation tasks, and financial plan are required with the goal to submit to Selectmen in 2016.

During the completion of the Report there may also be additional TTF tasks needed to address any interim or transitional needs that arise. The remaining tasks are addressed below:
1. TCI Phase II Ferry Planning Tasks Completed by the TTF (April to October 2015)

Phase II Planning Tasks: The TTF with support from Norris & Norris has completed many of the primary tasks to be included in the Ferry Report. Completed tasks include an operations alternatives analysis, route and schedule analysis, and comparison of ferry management systems. In addition the TTF has held preliminary discussions of landing rights at NEH, and discussions with existing ferry operators regarding existing and future services. Several unexpected tasks have also been addressed by the TTF team including assistance to the town with an unexpected RFP for portions of the current commuter service, as well as considerable deliberation and contingency plans for transitional ferry services during the fall/winter/spring/summer in case some or all of those services are interrupted.

Workshops (July 25 and August 29): The two public workshops were by all accounts successful in presentation and discussion of the alternative plans prepared, as well as in addressing concerns about continuity of ongoing 2015-16 ferry service. There was a good turnout and many critical insights and suggestions that have been incorporated in the ongoing planning. In response to the question of how much ferry services will cost the town and how funded, it was agreed that a detailed financial plan would be prepared and reviewed as a basis for town approval of proposed ferry changes.
Report Status: While the original schedule had called for report completion and presentation at the October special town meeting, the unexpected need to address immediate ferry service continuity interrupted the scheduled report completion. However, much of the detailed route and operations plans have been completed and are now ready for financial and management analysis. There is also general consensus to consider a Town linked non-profit ferry management structure similar to those at Isle au Haut and Chebeague.

2. TCI Phase II Ferry Planning Tasks to be Completed by the TTF (October 2015 to February 2016)

Next steps are:
1. Completion of a detailed operations plan including ferry schedule and routes, and refine the plan based on input from captains and users.
2. Fare structures,
3. Vessel specifications
4. Detailed research on comparative non-profit management approaches. Cost models for setting up and running a new service can then be prepared, with consideration of phased use of both existing and new vessels. Further discussions will be needed regarding NEH landing rights, and USPS mailboat contract, as well as funding assistance options with M-DOT and others.It is estimated that three more months will be needed for the TTF to complete the Ferry Report that can be discussed publicly and then presented at Spring Town Meeting.
3. TCI Phase III Ferry Management Structure and Implementation Actions (December 2015 to October 2016: While the above tasks will complete the Phase II work plan, additional detailed efforts will be needed to coordinate implementation steps of a new consolidated ferry service:
1.The organizational and legal details of a new management entity will need to be prepared by the TTF in coordination with Town counsel.
2. Formal actions may be needed between the Towns of TCI and MDI (NEH) and possibly SWH to guarantee landing rights for TCI authorized ferries. Assistance of the town attorney working with other towns’ counsels is needed in negotiation and drafting appropriate documents for landing rights.
3. TCI town dock and harbor Ordinances will need to be prepared to allow for more efficient and prioritized use of the public docks. Our town council will review the ordnance and organize the process of town approval.
4. Once the ferry management entity has been defined, new town ordinances may be needed to define the town’s role, and an RFP written for establishment of the non-profit entity.
5. Final funding commitments will need to be secured with M-DOT, USPS, and other sources to support the non-profit ferry service.
These new tasks will require continued TTF supervision along with consultant services for planning and legal assistance. Initial results can be presented and discussed at a spring public workshop.
The time frame for these tasks would be from December 2015 through October 2016, with new ferry services starting as early as the fall of 2016.
4. Maintain and Support Short Term 2015-2016 TCI Passenger and Freight Ferry Services: Just as the concerns for an emergency replacement for the fall Commuter contract and the potential need for a new winter and spring service required the attention of the town and the TTF team, it is assumed that the TTF and legal and planning consultants will be monitoring and responding to those needs as they arise. Any change in the status of ongoing critical passenger and freight services may also alter the timing and details of implementation of the long-term service.

Additional discussion:
The TTF discussed the recommendation regarding forming a non-profit and what the feeling of residents and the Selectmen are. Did the Selectmen reject this option? There was a general consensus after the August 27t workshop that a non-profit was not the desired option.

The TTF will need to provide an explanation about the need for the $40,000 requested in Article 5. Ron asked the Selectmen to include this so that the TTF can continue using its consultant to finish the long-term plan and to have finds for legal service if needed. This is needed if a buyer isn’t found for the ferry service and the Town ends up stepping in.

Meeting Adjourned at 5:20 p.m.