BOS Transportation Committee Workshop Minutes October 08, 2009

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Board of Selectman Transportation Committee Workshop – 9am, Oct. 8, ’09 - Islesford Neighborhood House

Respectfully Submitted by Ron Axelrod, CoChair, Transportation Committee

Attendees: Richard Beal, Dan Lief, Sally Rowan, Denise McCormick, Eric Dyer, Nan Hadlock, Eliza Greenman, Phil Whitney, Ron Axelrod, Karl Brunner
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A workshop before the Board of Selectmen's meeting on Oct. 6th focused on the next steps to bring the Transportation Committee's July 29, '09 "Recommendations for Ferry Service" to the Town in the form of a warrant article.

The discussion focused on service levels identified in the "Recommendations”: Comprehensive service or Commuter service. The Comprehensive service of one operator for year round service to NEH, seasonal service to Manset, and commuter service may be the best business model for the town and operator. However, some felt this was making the island community dependent on one operator who could have financial problems putting the island community at risk if no service was available.

The Commuter Service (6:30am dep. TCI & 5:30 +/- dep. NEH) was discussed as an add to the existing B & B. Some felt this was the least "threatening" to B & B whose schedule would most likely remain the same. The continued difficulty of communicating with B & B through this study process has hindered what could be more effective service options for the community and existing operator.

The cost of this Commuter Service was discussed relative to the operator's cost to provide the service, ridership potential (fares), governmental support, and town support. The financial model that the Transportation Committee developed assumed 5 riders for the service 260 days for the morning boat and 180 days for the late afternoon boat. (It was noted that current ridership on the "school boat" shows higher ridership numbers without community knowledge of this boat service.)

There was concern that adding runs (3 trip core schedule to a 5 trip core schedule) might split ridership and make both services unviable. Some thought there was ample capacity to handle two services. The consensus seemed to be that we have to try something and the least onerous and easiest to approach was the commuter
service option.

Networking with The Town of Mt. Desert is critical for landing of any extra boats. (Note added after meeting: This effort MUST be undertaken as soon as possible. A plan should be developed at the November BOS meeting on how this will be accomplished)

It is important to note that funding is uncertain and therefore the budget developed for this project and included in the 2010 warrant must be “worst case”. If the anticipated cost is $50,000 then that needs to be appropriated and the Selectmen authorized to use whatever means they are approved for (grants, head tax, etc) to offset that cost in addition to whatever amount is raised through taxes. If we have solid sources then we can use them in budgeting, but other than that we need to raise it from taxes. (An example would be the $14,000 or so in the Ramp Fees fund, if that fund was designated for use with the project). Grant funds are not reliable unless we have some paper to back them up.
It was decided that ramp fees could be addressed through an amendment to the Harbor Ordinance, as would a head tax if that is to be included as an option. This solution was presented as opposed to a separate “Harbor Fees” ordinance originally proposed by the Selectmen.

It was agreed that the Commuter Service would be a focus of the town warrant. The Town will issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for pricing and timing of the Commuter Service to be part of a town warrant for March 2010.

Specifics of the RFP considered operators qualifications and vessel size. The RFP will contain specifics about both of these items. However, it was noted that the existing operator has no qualifications submittal or criteria from TCI. Various consultants during the study questioned why no such arrangements or contractual arrangements have not been put in place. TCI provides free dockage to all vessels at their town docks; however, there are no contractual requirements of those who use the docks to provide substantiation of insurance, proper captain licensing requirements, etc. It was felt that this is the time to institute some level of qualification for their landing at TCI docks.

An RFP would be drafted by Ron and Phil with the assistance of the water transportation consultant Charles Norris. Unspent funds in the $5000 allocation in 2009 Town Meeting budget would pay for his service. The schedule is as follows:

October 16, 2009 BOS issue Notice of Proposals for Service Bids in November, 2009

Oct. 30th Draft RFP for Service Proposals to BOS by 3 pm.

Nov. 5th BOS reviews RFP and approves for publication and bidding

Nov. 9th TCI issues RFP

Dec. 3rd Bids due to TCI

Dec. 8th BOS meeting review bids

Concerning the drafting of the Warrant for March 2010 Town Meeting, Ron and Phil agreed to get the first draft of the warrant to the BOS Oct. 30th for their Nov. 3rd meeting. As agreed by the BOS, we will work with Mr. Norris as well as with Denise towards correct wording.

I hope this summarizes the results of the BOS workshop. Please do not hesitate to call or email if questions or suggestions. The more input by Committee members and others will make the ultimate Warrant better, more inclusive, and ultimately successful for the Town.

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