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JULY 14 - JULY 22, 2015

Temporary Maid of the Mist Shutdown Does Not Cause End of World, Life As We Know It.

By James Hufnagel

JULY 14, 2015

James Glynn lost his Canadian franchise and winter headquarters due to alleged corrupt influence on Ontario's Niagara Parks Commission covered in depth by this newspaper, and was forced to construct a new, $32 million boatyard, greased by campaign contributions to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, virtually overnight in order to keep his business semi-intact.
Hornblower, the worldwide tour boat company that outbid Glynn and took over his Canadian concession, has a standing offer to New York State exceeding what Glynn pays by $100 million, an amount that could pay off the current Niagara Falls budget deficit for the next 14 years.

"Niagara Falls as a natural wonder does not exist anymore. Manicured, repaired, landscaped and artificially lit... the Falls are more a monument to man's meddling than to nature's strength." - Ginger Strand,

"Inventing Niagara: Beauty, Power and Lies.

If you haven't read Ginger Strand's entertaining and insightful, though often disquieting, 2008 portrait of Niagara Falls and the city that shares its name, do yourself a favor and put it on your summer reading list.

Seven years later, if Strand revisited the same Niagara Falls State Park that she so artfully and thoroughly trashed in her book, even she probably wouldn't believe her eyes.

Thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo's "Landscape Improvements" plan, approved at a Greenway Commission meeting chaired by Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, the entire area surrounding the Falls, known as Prospect Point on Goat Island, has taken on the appearance of an amusement park, or the midway of a county fair.

The already large parking lot was doubled in size, and at any given time a dozen or more cars, buses and trolleys are queued up on the narrow road leading to it. Before starting out for the natural wonder, visitors must find a parking spot (no easy feat during peak hours) and then traverse a broad expanse of hot, sprawling blacktop, breathing exhaust fumes and dodging trolleys. Then it's navigating through or around the maze of food, snack and ice cream concessions where, typically, scores of tourists are seated on benches and at cafe-style tables partaking of Delaware North's overpriced fare.

Of course, all this parking and dining should be taking place in downtown Niagara Falls, benefiting local businesses instead of filling the pockets of Albany and multibillionaire Jeremy Jacobs, owner of Delaware North, facilitated by politicians like Cuomo and Dyster, who step lively when it comes to bulldozing and paving parkland, building a new boatyard in the gorge or pushing a Tesla statue out of the way in exchange for wads of cash deposited in their campaign accounts.

The divorce from nature and lack of respect for the Falls in our collective consciousness was subtly made evident last week in the local dailies' reporting of an incident that took place in which an overflow of water over the falls caused the Maid of the Mist to cease operations for several hours at the start of the holiday weekend.

The surge of water was considered noteworthy not because it reflected climatic changes in the region, or, for a few fleeting moments, simulated the falls as it appeared to Joncaire and Hennepin and LaSalle before half the water was diverted for hydropower, but because it temporarily beached Maid of the Mist.

Maid spokesman Kevin Keenan, the same individual who, on behalf of his boss James Glynn, took shabby parting shots at the Canadians in response to their gracious statements on the event of Maid's last day of operations there in 2013 (“We are disappointed by the failure of the Niagara Parks Commission... to recognize our Maid of the Mist Steamboat Company and its great history”) was back at it last week, making thinly-veiled statements implying the primacy of Maid operations over bilateral US-Canada water treaty agreements.

Referring to the water release as "man-made" and "unprecedented", Keenan stated that "Once they make that decision (to increase flow over the falls), it costs us business... They made a decision that idled our boats. There’s nothing we can do about that once they make a decision.”

So it wasn't "necessary action" taken by the International Niagara Board of Controls, the entity charged with allocating hydropower resources on both sides of the border, to address high water concerns above the Falls and alleviate possible flooding conditions, impacting Maid for a few hours, it was their "decision".

In both articles, Keenan referred to the boat ride as a "service". Because, as everyone knows, it's not about the money. Humanitarian James Glynn selflessly provides his "service" to the appreciative public, and we love him for it.

Keenan also recommended that questions be directed to the same Board of Controls, whose phone undoubtedly started ringing off the hook with calls from an irate public demanding to know why the Glynn boat ride had been shut down for a couple of hours.

Strangely, while the Buffalo News reported Keenan as maintaining that Maid of the Mist was in "constant communication" with the Board of Controls, the Niagara Gazette was unable to obtain any comment on the issue from the agency by press time.

"Maid of the Mist operations were expected to resume their regular schedule today. The company offers boat trips from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Aug. 8," the Gazette reassured readers at the end of its news story.





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