The Maid of the Mist tour boats have been working around Niagara Falls for 167 years. Development has just resumed on the operation’s new maintenance dock, after delays caused by local opposition.
In February 2012, the operators lost the right to operate the boats from the Canadian side of the falls, and the Cuomo administration stepped in to enable them to extend their storage facilities on the U.S. side.
“About 2.5 million people come here every year on both sides of the border and when you’re on the Maid of the Mist you really get a sense for the world destination that it is, because you see people from around the world and people really love that experience,” said Maid of the Mist spokesman Kevin Keenan.
A temporary restraining order was lifted at the beginning of April by the state Supreme Court on the $32 million, self-funded construction project (video of the construction available below). Keenan says crews are back to work beautifying the park space at the top of the Niagara gorge and building a maintenance facility for the Maid of the Mist boats on the site of the former Schoellkopf Power Station.
“There’s a crane that will be used at the dry dock facility to lift the boats out of the water and that crane right now is under construction in Germany, so there’s a lot going on here,” said Keenan.
Keenan said the project also includes preparations for a potential rock climbing attraction in the gorge.
However, Attorney for the Niagara Preservation Coalition Linda Shaw says her clients still disagree with the plans. She says project managers have been unclear about what the redevelopment will actually look like, once completed.
“Pieces of the cliff are being chopped off." Shaw said that experts deemed it dangerous to use the crane without a pile-supported platform or similar reinforcement measures. "So, there are things happening that were not disclosed and we're really worried that this is just the beginning; there are going to be a lot more things that happen that we'll never be able to bring it back,” said Shaw.
Shaw says there will most likely be an appeal on the Supreme Court ruling. Construction will continue on the dry dock and is expected to be finished by December 2013.
The operation, run by the Maid of the Mist Corporation of Niagara Falls New York, was incorporated in 1892. It's been owned by the Glynn family of Lewiston, New York since 1971.
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