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High-speed ferries between Kitty Hawk and river towns remains a concept

The Columbia Board of Aldermen on May 7 again took no action on a proposed fleet of passenger ferries speeding tourists between Kitty Hawk and Elizabeth City, Hertford, Edenton, Plymouth and Columbia.

“It’s a good concept, but I don’t know if it’s realistic,” said Mayor James Cahoon. “It’s more of an academic exercise.”

He also pointed out that backers of the plan intend to get $1.5 million start-up money from each county bordering Albemarle Sound, money supposedly to be furnished to the counties by the Golden LEAF Foundation.

“There are lots of questions that need answers” before Columbia officials take a stand on the proposal, the mayor said.

Town manager Rhett White reported that Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County have endorsed the concept but did not commit money for its implementation.

The proposal surfaced in early April, but it was not discussed by Tyrrell County commissioners that month or on May 1. The county board is to meet again May 21.

The ferries would “bring more people, from greater distances, who stay longer, and spend more money in northeastern North Carolina,” the concept contends.

Tourists in 49-seat catamaran boats will visit each of the five waterfront towns “with much to see and do at each stop,” the concept invisions. Ferry riders would be free to spend as much time as they wish in each town.

The plan was developed under the direction of Dr. Nick Didow, professor in the Kenan-Flagler School of Business at UNC-Chapel Hill.