Lease expires between Bay Ferries and Portland
Company making move to Bar Harbor for Cat ferry service
While there is still much to do and sort out before ferry service between Bar Harbor, Maine and Yarmouth, N.S. is finalized, the lease agreement between Bay Ferries and the City of Portland has now expired.
“Our company had an option to continue for the 2019 season in Portland, which was subject to mutual agreement of the parties. That option expired on Dec. 31,” said Mark MacDonald, president and CEO of Bay Ferries. The Cat ferry operated to and from Portland the past three years. “We’re very appreciative to the City of Portland who worked with us through the fall and extended the ( lease) option date on several occasions on our request.”
Jessica Grondin, a spokeswoman for the City of Portland, also confirmed the lease expiration in a Jan. 3 email, saying, “the lease has expired with the City of Portland. Future operational questions should be addressed to Bay Ferries.”
Bay Ferries has been working with the Town of Bar Harbor to resume ferry service from this port, which the company sailed in and out of from 1997 to 2009. It says it had done so without any provincial government subsidy until the year 2006, when it was asked to also take on the Portland route, which increased the company’s expenses.
Bay Ferries has eyed a re- turn to using Bar Harbor as its American port starting in 2019 to tap into a robust tourism market and to reduce operational costs with a shorter sailing distance and less fuel consumption. Uncertainty over the future availability of Portland as a port was also a factor.
ISSUES TO SORT OUT
But while Bar Harbor town council voted unanimously in October to authorize its town manager to sign a five- year lease agreement with Bay Ferries for ferry service starting in 2019, there have been snags.
The town had to extend the closing date for its own $ 3.5- million purchase of the ferry terminal property with the State of Maine when thengovernor Paul Lepage refused to sign the deed due a change of wording he wanted within the document. The town could not sign the lease agreement with Bay Ferries until it officially owned the property, although the Maine Department of Transportation did approve a right of entry to the ferry company to access the property and start minor work ahead of the town owning the property.
The closing date for the town’s purchase that had been set for Nov. 30 was extended to on or before Jan. 31. Lepage is no longer governor of Maine. The new governor, Janet Mills, was sworn in Jan. 3.