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    Cape Lookout

    National Seashore North Carolina

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Beaufort Front Street Site Selected For Seashore Ferry

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Date: September 29, 2011
Contact: Wouter Ketel, 252-728-2250 ext. 3005

Harkers Island, NC – Superintendent Pat Kenney announced that the National Park Service (NPS) has selected the Beaufort Front Street site as the departure location for the passenger ferry service from the Beaufort and Morehead City area to the Shackleford Banks and Cape Lookout areas of Cape Lookout National Seashore.

The Beaufort site was identified as the preferred alternative in the Passenger Ferry Departure Site Environmental Assessment and Assessment of Effect (Ferry EA) that was released for public comment on March 1, 2011. Public meetings were held on March 8 at the Duke Marine Lab auditorium. The final decision was signed by NPS Regional Director David Vela on August 22, 2011.

The Beaufort Front Street ferry departure site and facilities will be provided under a partnership agreement with the Town of Beaufort. Located at the new Beaufort Town Hall (the former Post Office Building) and Grayden Paul Park, this site will provide park visitors with a single departure gateway experience which integrates directional signage to the ferry, drop-off zones, parking, accessible visitor facilities and vessels, and consistent information about the park. The ferry service will be provided by a business operator authorized under a long-term contract with the NPS, which will help ensure consistent visitor access to the seashore, and will bring the management of ferry service into conformity with the NPS Concessions Management Act of 1998.

"We are very pleased and grateful to be able to partner with the Town of Beaufort," noted Superintendent Kenney." The NPS ferry gateway will integrate well with the Beaufort waterfront, and with the Town's help, visitors will be able to expect superlative experiences as they visit the national seashore."

It is anticipated that a request for proposals (bids) for the ferry service contract will be released in the spring of 2013; and that the ferry service will operate under contract in 2014. Federal contracts are announced nationally and are open to all bidders.

Background

The decision that ferry service to Cape Lookout National Seashore would be managed under NPS contracts was made in the Commercial Services Plan & Environmental Assessment for Cape Lookout National Seashore, completed in 2008. This plan was the product of several public meetings and public comments.

The Passenger Ferry Departure Site EA/AoE is an outcome of the public scoping meetings that were held on August 26, 2009, and the Ferry Departure Site Feasibility Study that was completed since that time. The study examined 8 potential locations for a passenger ferry operations base in the Morehead City or Beaufort area, and identified site characteristics and requirements to consider, including: parking, cost of facilities, gateway potential, accessibility issues and opportunities for partnering with the Towns. As a result of the study, two sites, one on 10th Street in Morehead City and another on Front Street in Beaufort, were carried forward for evaluation in the draft Passenger Ferry Departure Site EA/AoE.

Based on the study and the EA/AoE, the NPS determined that both of the sites met the purpose, needs and objectives as identified by the EA/AoE to a large degree. Alternative B, the Beaufort Front Street site, was identified as the preferred alternative.

"We very much appreciate the careful consideration and significant help that staff from the Town of Morehead City and the Town of Beaufort provided in this process," noted Superintendent Pat Kenney; "both towns made excellent proposals."

 

Did You Know?

Humpback whale in front of Cape Lookout lighthouse

Diamond City was a shore-based whaling community located where Barden Inlet now separates the islands of Shackleford Banks and South Core Banks. Crews would row whaling dories out from shore to chase the whales as they migrated past the island. Cape Lookout National Seashore