Niagara Gazette

Columns

April 21, 2013

GLYNN: Village looks at waterfront plans

Niagara Gazette — It doesn’t require rocket science to realize that the once popular passenger ferry that linked Youngstown with Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., is undoubtedly a dead issue.

Politicians relish the idea of raising hopes that the cross-border service ended decades ago will be revitalized. It won’t happen in your lifetime, so don’t bother listening to any candidate on the campaign trail who talks about another ferry operation.

On the brighter side, Youngstown officials are exploring two projects that could add a sharp dimension to the village waterfront. At the last village board meeting, Mike Fox of Fox Boys Marine, proposed his Niagara Jet Adventures, including three new jet boats, 33 feet long and 11 feet wide, with a seating capacity for 33. Fox explained that the boats would run along the lower Niagara River from Youngstown to the Whirlpool Rapids, a short distance past the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant.

Under the plan, Fox’s fleet would operate trips similar to the Whirlpool Jet Boats based at Niagara-on-the-Lake although there would be no link to the Canadian side. Whether the U.S. Coast Guard and other authorities will permit two such companies to operate between Lewiston and the mouth of the Niagara River is a matter yet to be resolved.

Meanwhile Youngstown trustee Tim Adamson is convinced the two waterfront proposals could be the best thing to come to the village in many years.

On a related note, Aaron Dey has proposed Niagara River Cruises that he and his wife, “Miss Jane,” envision as a not-for-profit promotional initiative that would incorporate the village’s nautical history and marine assets. “We’d be offering historical river cruises,” he said.   

For starters, in the wake of terror attacks — long before the tragic events in Boston — the Department of Homeland Security imposed mind-bogging restrictions on such operations, especially along international borders. As an example, the operators of any such cross-border ferry service, as part of their license agreement, would be responsible for building a holding center (a jail) at the landing where people illegally trying to enter the country would be detained. A conservative estimate of the cost for that facility would be upwards of a million dollars, based on what the federal government usually demands. In addition, of course, there would be annual expense for the U.S. Customs Border and Protective Services to staff the site.

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