HARKERS ISLAND — The bidding ended this week for the Cape Lookout National Seashore’s ferry service contract, but some people are still protesting the National Park Service’s ferry plan for the seashore.
Ken Tyminski, a part-time ferry driver for a Beaufort-based ferry service, and his wife, Judi, both of Havelock, began an online petition Tuesday against the NPS’s Cape Lookout ferry plan.
The plan, which has been in the works since 2006, will eliminate the existing permit that allows any ferry operator holding a permit to transport people to, from and around Cape Lookout and Shackleford Banks. Instead, the NPS will issue a contract that will authorize one ferry service to operate from two NPS launches – one at the Cape Lookout Visitor Center here and another being built in Beaufort.
The Tyminskis feel strongly enough about keeping the ferry service to Cape Lookout the way it is. They’ve started an online petition at the website www.change.org. The petition, titled “Cape Lookout National Seashore: Stop the consolidation of the local ferry service operators,” had, 476 signatures as of 7:30 a.m., today. Each signature automatically sends an email to U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C. Pat Kenney, the Cape Lookout superintendent and Neil Mulholland, NPS Foundation chairman. The full petition address is: http://www.change.org/petitions/cape-lookout-national-seashore-stop-the-consolidation-of-the-local-ferry-service-operators?utm_campaign=mailto_link&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition.
Mr. Tyminski said he and his wife have been hearing about this proposal since they arrived at the Crystal Coast nearly nine years ago.
“The more we hear, the more it sounds like a bad idea that will limit access to Cape Lookout and Shackleford Banks,” he said. “Lately, when speaking with people, I’ve yet to find anyone who thinks this is a good idea except Pat Kenney, the Cape Lookout superintendent.”
Mr. Tyminski said Mr. Kenney spoke at a Ft. Macon Power Squadron meeting on Monday in Beaufort. Mr. Tyminski asked Mr. Kenney about the benefits of consolidating the service.
Mr. Tyminski said the supervisor told him consolidating the ferry service would improve scheduling. But that doesn’t make sense to Mr. Tyminski because the existing ferry services have schedules of their own.
“I asked him if an economic impact study had been done,” Mr. Tyminski said. “He said yes, and that it was OK. I don’t see how, since seven ferry operators will go out of business.”
Mr. Myminski said there’s a variety of ferry services users can chose from today, which would be a lost feature if the services to Cape Lookout were consolidated.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kenney doesn’t see any reason not to continue with the Cape Lookout ferry plan as it stands. He said while it could be stopped by the park service, he sees no reason that it would.
“Operations of this scale in national parks are usually managed by concessions,” he said. “It’s just policy. We’re trying to create a gateway experience so people can interact with the NPS before going over to the park.”
Ensuring there will always be a ferry service seems to also be a priority for the NPS. Mr. Kenney said there was a lot of waterfront property going on the market in recent years, and there was no guarantee any ferry services going on at the lots would be continued.
Contact Mike Shutak at 252-726-7081 ext. 206, email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.