Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Only a Drill, Nothing Foreboding Here

Let's hope this doesn't mean they know something we don't.

What could possibly go wrong?

I want to let it be known that I am a booster of the Fast Ferry. As a "young Rochesterian", I think that the Ferry is the kind of premiere project that the region should be investing in. It raises the profile of the region, lavishes us with free promotion (one Simon School professor estimated the total value of free advertising at $9 million. Of course, not all of it good.), and allows new avenues of entrepreneurial venture. Also, attractions like the Ferry help make an easier case for keeping young people here. With cheap Jet Blue flights to New York City, and a high speed ferry to Toronto, I'd say Rochester has unique links to two of the best cities on the eastern part of the continent, if not the world.

Things get muddled in the execution, of course. I'd like to forget about the whole ordeal with CATS, but they won't go away. Their sister company, Maplestar Development Co, doing their best imitation of a case of herpes is in a sweetheart deal to collect rents in the Port of Rochester over the next 40 years. Now I could rage against this and pound my tiny fists against my chest, but I won't.

These deals, as I understand it, are fairly common in private sector/public sector ventures. Sometimes they're smart, sometimes they aren't. This deal? Not smart. That's the way the game is played. Either you shake it off and get back in the game, or you take your ball and go home. It looks like the City of Rochester wants to even the score up now in the second half.

I'm good with it. The City should get all litigious on CATS' collective ass. I'm not a lawyer, and there are reasons why that's the case, but I'm skeptical if they'll actually be able to do anything about the deal. Just the same, I'm glad they're attempting to undo the deal.

As for the current deal with Bay Ferries Ltd., I'm inclined to believe this will work. We'll see if they pick up the option to buy the Ferry from the city in three years. The firm has operated fast ferries before. My wife has ridden on the Yarmouth, Nova Scotia/Bar Harbor, Maine ferry that they operate and she liked it. They know how to run a business without subsidy. And they have business savy outside of our region, illustrated by renaming the ferry The Cat despite our experience with CATS. We may bristle at the name because of the association, but the company has a strong brand name with their other ferries called The Cat. They want folks from outside of the region to know they're running this boat. Which also means, they want folks from outside of the region riding this boat. Which means, for me, there will be folks from outside of this region spending their money here.

Doesn't that just make you feel all warm and good inside?