La Pointe’s Harbor Commission plans to purchase Madeline Island Ferry Line

La Pointe town seal
La Pointe town seal(Northern News Now)
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 12:31 PM CDT
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LA POINTE, WI. (Northern News Now) - A big change is coming to the Madeline Island Ferry Line (MIFL) at the end of this year.

During a town board meeting on Tuesday, the Town of La Pointe’s Harbor Commission issued an intent to purchase the MIFL.

The over $17 million purchase will transfer ownership of the ferry line to the people of Madeline Island.

Now, the Harbor Commission will complete, with the help of municipal finance consultants and bond counsel, its structure of debt service mechanisms, along with an operating agreement for the year ahead.

The scheduled closing date is December 31, 2023.

“We are particularly pleased and grateful that MIFL elected to pursue a sales agreement with the Town’s Harbor Commission rather than the other private, for-profit businesses that sought ownership of our Island ferry line,” said Town Board Chair Glenn Carlson.

“The Ferry Line is key to the welfare of both Bayfield and the Madeline Island communities,” said Robin Trinko Russell, the Ferry Line’s vice president of finance/shore. “It is gratifying that the Island community, through the newly created Harbor Commission, will continue to chart the path that best serves year-rounders, seasonal residents, local businesses, commuters, and our many visitors.”

Officials state the approval of the town board gives both parties time to complete a number of administrative and operational steps necessary to transition to a publicly operated transportation utility.

This will include the completion of an operating agreement for the next year along with planning access to new opportunities for state and federal assistance available exclusively to municipally owned ferry services.

“Throughout each of the steps ahead, the Harbor Commission will regularly communicate and engage with the people of the Island as we move toward completing the transition,” Childers said.

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