2010-10-09 / Editorials

Purchasing Ferry Dock Is Good for Island

To the Editor:

As a lifelong Mackinac Island resident, property owner, voter, and business owner, I can no longer sit back and let “outsiders” determine the future of our Island. My father and grandmother were born and raised on the Island and my family has resided there for more than 130 years. My father, my brother, my sister, and I all attended Thomas W. Ferry School and we all worked on the Island for most of our lives. I have owned several successful businesses on the Island and I am currently CEO of Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry Service, Inc., “Star Line.”

You may find bias creeping into the following proposals but

hope as an Islander, and not as a ferry boat owner, that my true thoughts are revealed.

First, as an Islander I feel the purchase of the Arnold Transit main passenger dock and the rebuilt coal dock are vital links to the mainland which the city and residents should have control over. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to secure our lifeline with the outside world. Star Line does not own a dock on the Island, but if we did I would hope that the city would consider buying it, also. It’s like owning one end of a bridge. He who does more or less has control of the bridge – in this case the two Arnold Transit docks. There is no other single spot on Mackinac that can handle the volume of freight, passengers, horses, vehicles, construction material, etc., than those two docks can.

Second, the purchase of these docks through a bond issue would not cost the taxpayers of the Island one penny, as the lease-back arrangement would not only pay back the city’s initial cost of the property, but at the time the bonds are paid off, the city would continue to receive lease payments which should more than make up any lost revenues from taking the property off the tax rolls.

Third, I heard some rather hypocritical remarks at the council meeting September 8, regarding why it was bad for the city to purchase the docks when, in fact, the Village of Mackinaw City owns and leases a ferry dock in their town to Shepler’s.

Fourth, the liability issue came up concerning the city’s exposure to lawsuits arising from the dock. I feel that that can be easily remedied by insisting that the lessee be required to carry an adequate amount of insurance to cover most situations at his expense.

Fifth, and now I am speaking with my Star Line hat on, I will publicly say that Star Line did not and does not plan to merge with Arnold Transit Company or Shepler’s Ferry. We have never been for sale and do not plan to purchase either of our competitors. We hope that the franchise issue will be resolved within the next few months. We all need to know if we “are in the running” for the franchise come April 1, 2011.

Thomas Pfeiffelmann

St. Ignace Mackinac Island

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