The Portsmouth Town Council took up this very issue at Tuesday night's meeting at Town Hall.
Currently, two companies - the Prudence Island Ferry, owned by Bruce Medley since the mid-1980s, and a new company, A&R Marine - are seeking permission to operate the only public ferry service to the island.
The council voted unanimously Tuesday to leave the town's endorsement up to the Prudence Island Planning Commission, reports The Portsmouth Times.
The PIPC members will need to meet soon to make a final decision. The recommendation will be presented at the RI Public Utilities and Carriers Commission hearing on Oct. 29.
Members of the PIPC are Prudence Island residents Edward Aldrich, Eugene Cardin, Ann Marie Lockwood and Harry Sterling. The final PIPC member is Theckla Snell, whose town of residence is listed as Taunton, MA, on the town website.
A Tale of Two Ferry Providers
The issue of ferry service began when Bruce Medley, who has owned and operated the Prudence Island Ferry since the mid-1980s, announced he would retire last year.
Medley originally said the ferry service would end on Dec. 1; however, he later took back this statement. The Prudence Island Ferry Service does not plan on closing now.
However, the retirement announcement set into motion a discussion about ferry services.
Recently, a new company, A&R Marine, which would operate as Prudence and Bay Islands Transport, has submitted its application to the RI Public Utilities and Carriers Commission. A hearing to discuss A&R Marine's application is scheduled for Oct. 29.
A&R Marine would operate as Prudence and Bay Islands Transport, according to its application. The company was formed by Ethan Rossi, who holds a captain’s license, and Patricia Rossi, both of Prudence Island, and Stephen Antaya and Danial Antaya, both of Richmond.
The application was filed on Sept. 19. It seeks a certificate of public convenience and necessity.
The new company will have to prove that is “fit, willing and able to provide ferry service” and that there is a need for the ferry service. With Prudence Island Ferry already offering a service to the island A&R also must prove that the service is inadequate or would be down the road.
Attorney Michael McElroy of Providence, who represents A&R Marine, said the company was formed because Medley commented publicly that his ferry service would shut down on Dec. 1.
Prudence Island Ferry is actually a lifeline carrier – it cannot cease operating because it is the only way for people to come and go from the island and the mainland.
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