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Letter: Portsmouth should still pursue ferry alternatives

By   /   January 17, 2014  /   Be the first to comment

Editor’s note: The following letter, dated Jan. 16, was sent to Portsmouth Town Administrator John Klimm. The letter-writer owns property on Hog Island.

To the editor:

Prudence Island is physically isolated from Portsmouth mainland by water and has many issues unique to them. The Portsmouth Town Council is to be commended for creating the Prudence Island Planning Committee with advisory duties to the Planning Commission. Apparently the town recognizes that Prudence residents should have a voice in the present administration and future planning of their community.

For personal reasons, I have a special interest in the outcome of the ferry service and agree with the vote of no confidence on the current licensee. I think it is a public disservice that there is only one appointed PUC staff member license reviewer with a recommendation to the appointed PUC administrator and they have the ultimate authority for approval of the ferry licensee. Although the license is non exclusive, they could create conditions that make it exclusive and public and town is subject to the terms and use of one common carrier.

I recently wrote a letter to Portsmouth officials about the Town of Portsmouth’s ability inability to legally impact approval of ferry operator licenses outside of the hearing process. I was apparently confused about the responsibility for the approval of ferry service licenses and the role of the Public Service Commission, the Public Service Administration and the PUC Motor/Common Carriers Division. I have a better, but not complete, understanding of the process now.

Why can’t the Town of Portsmouth partner with a company of its choice that can provide the facilities to ensure future service will provided in the best interest of both Prudence and the ability to service Hog Island in the future? There is nothing prohibiting Portsmouth, as a town, for applying for a common carrier license along with subcontracting service and facilities with another carrier. I am sure Bristol, with its dock facilities, might support a local government venture as well.

Since ferry service operator Bruce Medley now wants to keep the Prudence service, the quality of current ferry service including (I assume) limitations of service is under review. You have to consider that the license once included Hog Island service in the summer which he cancelled several years ago. In my opinion, he currently has limited ability to provide full service to the general public affected by service to Portsmouth’s islands. I understand there are other companies who have applied for a license who will service both islands.

I appeal to the Town of Portsmouth to do everything within its administrative and legislative authority to provide alternative solutions.

Nancy Santulli Ciummo

Bristol

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