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News Release

RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462


For Release:

August 11, 2000

Media Contact:

Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418
Malcolm Grant 222-6605 pager 460-8605

DEM ISSUES PERMIT TO HIGH SPEED FERRY, LLC CONDITIONED ON STANDARDS SPELLED OUT BY DEM IN 1998 LETTER TO COMPANY

Smaller Ferry Size, No Interference with Loading, Unloading Fishing Boats Key

PROVIDENCE - Jan Reitsma, Director of the Department of Environmental Management, announced today that Island High Speed Ferry, LLC has agreed to comply with the terms of a January 28, 1998 letter, which spelled out the conditions under which DEM would issue it a berthing permit for its proposed Block Island ferry.

On that basis, the Department today issued a berthing permit at Galilee State Pier #3 for a considerably smaller vessel than that rejected by the Department on August 7. The new vessel will be slightly less than 100 feet long by 31 feet wide. The rejected vessel was 122 feet long and 34 feet wide.

Said Reitsma, "Two and a half years ago we indicated our interest in supporting competition in the Port's ferry business so long as it could be accomplished without disadvantaging the commercial fishing fleet. We established firm standards for how this could be accomplished and we've held fast to those standards. I am extremely gratified that our efforts have borne fruit."

The January 1998 letter stated that Island High Speed Ferry's request would be approved only if their ferry operation did not interfere with the loading and unloading of transient commercial fishing boats. To this end, it required that the ferry share the berth presently reserved for the tour boat, Southland, with only one of the vessels allowed in the berth at a time; that the Southland be berthed outside of the Port overnight; that a mooring dolphin used by fishermen and Interstate Navigation not be removed; that ticket sales not be conducted on the pier; and that the use of the pier surface by fishermen not be otherwise interfered with.

"Island High Speed Ferry has expressed its confidence that its vessel can meet the requirements set by the Department in 1998, and our approval is conditioned on its doing so. We wish them success," said Reitsma.


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