City to discuss possible deal with American Cruise Lines


FORT MADISON – Fort Madison city officials could be holding a discussion Tuesday on possibly entering into an agreement with American Cruise Lines as an additional user for a proposed dock on the west end of Riverview Park.

The city is currently negotiating with Viking Cruise Lines to be a port-of-call for the worldwide cruising company’s planned Mississippi River cruises in 2021.

Fort Madison Mayor Brad Randolph said officials with American Cruise Lines, an established domestic cruise line based out of Connecticut, were in town last week meeting with city officials and getting a look at the riverfront.

“I would say, I thought… ‘And then there were two’, which is nice,” Randolph said Friday.

“During our discussions with Viking, that are still on-going and we’re still looking toward that agreement, we’ve been approached by American. American Cruise Lines is an established US company that has boats in the water and is manufacturing more boats as we speak. They have a desire in a stop here as well. And they’re timeline is quick.”

City Councilmen were sent information today regarding Tuesday’s upcoming regular meeting indicating a discussion was planned on the status of American’s interest. City Clerk Melinda Blind said a report on the discussions could be coming Monday.

The city recently spent $25,000 on a feasibility study from a Wisconsin firm to look at what would need to be done to the pier to make it workable for cruising ships on the Mississippi.

City Manager David Varley has been talking with Viking about a lease agreement and the cost of building the extended dock for the cruise liners.

The dock, according to the study, is estimated to cost of $1.7 million and Varley indicated Viking has agreed to pay $500,000 toward the cost of the project leaving the city to fund the additional $1.2 million. The cost of construction is estimated at $1.21 million, but a 30% contingency fund coupled with design and engineering costs of 7% push the total to $1.7 million.

Randolph said American officials reached out to the city two weeks ago.

“We had an initial phone conference with them two weeks ago. They had a representative come to Fort Madison and we met with them last Thursday,” he said.

“We showed them around, showed them the facilities, and they stayed overnight. Then they were showed around some more the next morning and they like what they see.”

He said he’s looking at the turn of events as now having two cruise lines interested in sharing the pier.

“The way we are looking at it now is its a common pier and the thought is that we would be able to entertain both offers if the council and community still agree to it,” Randolph said.

“There are different parameters to each. And we’re not giving up on one to get another. If we can make both happen that’s a great thing for the community.”

Also slated for Tuesday’s meeting, the council will consider:

  • action to reconsider an ordinance setting new sewer rates to help cover costs associated with upgrades and continued maintenance on the city’s waste water treatment plant and sewer systems. The council voted down a proposed rate increase at the last city council meeting.
  • a resolution to revise a grant application for Regional Surface Transportation Grants removing a stretch of Old Highway 61 from 18th to 20th streets from the grant funding and accelerate the time frame of the two-block reconstruction using local funding.
  • the appointment of Stephanie Knoch to the city’s Civil Service Commission.
  • discussion and possible action on repairing traffic lights at 53rd Street and Avenue O.

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