Sold! Bristol buys Prudence Island dock for $800,000


The town of Bristol recently purchased the Prudence Island Ferry dock and parking lot on Thames Street for $800,000 from Bruce Medley, owner/operator of the Prudence Island Ferry.

The move was necessary to ensure that residents of the Portsmouth community of Prudence Island maintain access to the mainland. Several months ago, Mr. Medley announced that he will no longer operate the ferry to and from Prudence Island as of December 1, 2013. Since that time, town officials in Bristol and Portsmouth have been discussing options that will provide seamless service to the island.

“Bristol is not interested in getting into the ferry business,” Mr. Teixeira said. “Portsmouth has the responsibility to provide a lifeline” to Prudence Island residents.

Although Mr. Teixeira said that he would like to keep the port of call in Bristol, the Public Utilities Commission that oversees ferry service gave the go-ahead to the town of Portsmouth to put out a request for information to see who may be interested in providing ferry service.

“We are very interested in continuing being the main landing point for the ferry,” Mr. Teixeira said.

Among the terms of the $800,000 purchase price, which was negotiated from Mr. Medley’s original $1.1 million asking price sale, Mr. Medley will retain ownership of the dock lift that enables vehicles and passengers to board the ferry. The town will own the parking lot with its 65 to 70 spots, however lease agreements for 25 of those spots between Prudence Island residents and Mr. Medley will be honored through the terms of the lease, Mr. Teixeira said.

Along with the real estate, the town now owns the riparian rights to the water and seabed extending beyond the property.

With the change of ownership, the town will implement some new policies with regard to parking.

“People who park to use the ferry will pay for overnight parking,” Mr. Teixeira said.

No start date for that policy was mentioned, however.

The agreement to purchase took several months before Mr. Medley and Bristol’s town officials could reach an agreement.

“Negotiations have been going on since I came into office,” Mr. Teixeira said. “I struck up a conversation with (Mr. Medley) and at first he walked away. We shook hands and I told him we’d talk again. Eventually we were able to work things out.”

Mr. Teixeira said that he had the full support of the town council for the purchase, and credited town treasurer, Julie Goucher, and the town’s director of community planning for being instrumental in reaching the agreement with Mr. Medley.

Besides the lift on the Bristol port, Mr. Medley still owns the dock and lift on Prudence Island.

Mr. Teixeira said that a new ferry service provider would either make arrangements with Mr. Medley to use the lift in Bristol, or remove it and replace it with their own.

It was unknown what plans are in play for the Prudence Island dock. Portsmouth town administrator, John Klimm, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.


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Downtown, apparently you are not aware that many Prudence Islanders spend a great deal of money in Bristol businesses and many have apartments or homes here as well. This purchase also was not just to "help" the islanders. This gives the town of Bristol back a strategic piece of waterfront property. The waterfront development plans continue with plans to turn the armory into a boater's welcome center as well as other long range goals to maximize the usage of the waterfront by people who live, work, and visit here. Leasing the parking spaces will help offset the cost of the purchase as well.

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