A Beaufort, North Carolina, company has been awarded a contract to ferry Cape Lookout National Seashore visitors out to Shackleford Banks and South Core Banks.
Island Express Ferry Service will begin the service in 2014. The ferries -- passenger-only skiffs -- will depart from the Town of Beaufort and Harkers Island.
“NPS is very pleased to award Island Express Ferry Service the contract, and we are looking forward to a long-term productive relationship for providing exemplary service to park visitors,” said Superintendent Pat Kenney.
“We are very excited to be awarded the National Park Service ferry contract,” said Captain George Aswad, managing owner of the Island Express Ferry Service. “We are looking forward to providing park visitors with great service while facilitating visitor understanding and appreciation for the park.”
The Park Service worked with the Town of Beaufort for providing the Beaufort Ferry Gateway; the gateway will be located at the Beaufort Town Hall located on Front Street.
“We are looking forward to having the National Park Service in the Town of Beaufort,” said Town Manager Charlie Burgess. “The ferries departing from Beaufort will provide long-term economic benefits to the Town.”
The gateway will include a Visitor Information Center located in the Beaufort Town Hall with exhibits about the park; restrooms accessible docks, outdoor exhibits and there will be flexible parking arrangements for ferry passengers.
At the Harkers Island Visitor Center, the NPS is making progress on facility improvements. These facilities include: accessible docks, a shade shelter, outdoor exhibits on the park and a ferry ticket booth. Future planned improvements include increased parking and improved connections to the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center and the park’s picnic area.
The Park Service sought proposals for the ferry service contract in February 2013, and bids for the contract were evaluated by an independent panel during July of 2013. This panel determined that Island Express had the best overall proposal. The panel’s recommendation for award of the contract was approved by NPS Southeast Regional Director Stan Austin on September 30.
The purpose of managing ferry service through a contract is to ensure long-term continuity of the ferry service, a consistently high level of services that are specified and reviewed by the NPS, and to help visitors understand the significances of the Park.