Maid Clears One Legal Hurdle, Gets Ready to Launch Friday
By Tony Farina
Court battles notwithstanding, the Maid of the Mist will launch its boat tours for the season on Friday, April 19, and that’s a pretty good sign that we may finally be emerging from the icy grip of winter that has kept us housebound for so long.
Among the celebrants for the opening of the season is Cataract Tours, the company based at the One Niagara Building which includes the Maid of the Mist boat ride as one of its stops.
“We’re very excited about the upcoming tourist season,” said Tom Kerr of Cataract Tours. “Our buses are already running and our tour guides have updated their knowledge of all the attractions at the falls that surround our mighty world wonder, and the Maid of the Mist is right at the top of the list.”
The Maid of the Mist under the Glynn family is still facing a court challenge on whether its revised lease agreement with the state, negotiated behind closed doors with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is legal.
State Supreme Court Justice Catherine Nugent Panepinto last week reserved decision on a lawsuit by Hornblower Yachts for the tour boat operation on the U. S. side who claims the franchise should have been subject to competitive bidding because it was, in effect, a revision of the 2002 deal the Glynn family had with the state.
Hornblower Yachts is willing to pay the state more than twice the $105 million the Glynn family will pay over the next 30 years to operate the tours. Hornblower already has won the right to operate the famed tour on the Canadian side, outbidding several competitors, including Glynn, for the agreement.
Judge Panepinto, cleared one legal hurdle for Glynn by throwing out an environmental challenge to work on the Schoellkopf Power Plant ruins in the Niagara Gorge, allowing the work to resume on building storage docks for Glynn’s boats after the season ends. The new docks are necessary for the Glynn family to keep control because they lost their docking facility on the Canadian side in the Hornblower takeover.
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