With the Bristol to Prudence Island Ferry the only public means of getting between the island and the mainland, ferry operator Bruce Medley’s memo places a sense of urgency on the towns of Bristol and Portsmouth. The message that was sent to Portsmouth town administrator, John C. Klimm, and posted on Facebook’s “Around the Dock” page reads:
I said I would keep you posted. Prudence Ferry Inc. will cease all operations as of the last ferry on Sunday December 1, 2013.
As of this point neither of the vessels are for sale. This should give everyone ample time to find another service. I will be posting notices shortly.”
Since Mr. Medley already expressed his desire to retire as the ferry operations and is actively involved in discussions with the Bristol town council to sell the dock to the town, the notice came as no surprise to Bristol town council chairwoman, Mary Parella.
“It doesn’t shock me. His goal is to retire,” Ms. Parella said after learning of the memo.
While Bristol town administrator, Tony Teixeira, and members of the town council continue to discuss the future of the dock and the keeping the ferry service in Bristol, the town is “very interested” in purchasing the dock, but doesn’t want to become a ferry operator.
Representative Raymond Gallison, who represents Bristol and Portsmouth in District 69, recognizes the urgency to resolve the matter and ensure uninterrupted service to and from Prudence Island. He proposed that a ferry authority should be created by interested parties, removing the operations from the division of public utilities as it is currently.
“(Mr. Medley) owns the property in Bristol and Prudence Island. If he says ‘I’m selling it,’ what do you do? That was part of my legislation,” Rep. Gallison said. “Now, all of a sudden as of Dec. 1 you’re not going to have a ferry service? That’s a red flag to me.”
Rep. Gallison’s bill, H-5600, mimics the language from other authorities, he said, and submitted with the intent that it can be amended to address the particular needs of the Bristol and Portsmouth residents.
Some critics are concerned that Rep. Gallison’s legislation would create an authority similar to the Bristol County Water Authority or the attempted East Bay Energy Consortium. While those two bodies are not without flaws, Rep. Gallison said that he feels a ferry authority would work for this situation.
“There are a lot of authorities out there that work very well. I’m not suggesting another EBEC,” he said. “I don’t know if someone’s out there to buy the route. That’s the important thing, the route.”
Mr. Teixeira could not be reached for comment on what affect, if any, the Dec. 1 pullout date will have on the town.