Richard C. Jacobs, vice president and general counsel for San Francisco-based Hornblower, said his company is "deeply disappointed" with Panepinto's decision and plans to appeal.
"We don't think it reflects the requirements of New York state public bidding laws," Jacobs said. "We will undoubtedly be appealing this case."
Gwitt said Hornblower's attorneys have 30 days to file an appeal. For now, Gwitt said, Panepinto's decision clears the way for work to continue on the Maid's storage facility, which is currently under construction. If all goes as planned, Gwitt said the company will have its facility completed in time to allow for Maid of the Mist boats to be removed from the water and placed into storage before winter.
"Everything is expected to be in place before fall," Gwitt said.
Completion of the project would allow Maid of the Mist boats, which have been ferrying passengers along the lower Niagara River since 1846, to continue offering trips from the American side next year, and beyond. Hornblower has acquired exclusive rights to storage facilities located on the Canadian side of the river under an agreement with the Niagara Parks Commission. The company will launch its fleet next year.
At least one other legal challenge remains for Maid's endeavor on the American side. The Niagara Preservation Coalition, a local group that maintains state and federal agencies failed to protect the integrity of the historic Schoellkopf site during the storage facility's construction, has asked a federal judge to intervene on its behalf. The group filed its federal lawsuit after having several similar cases dismissed at the state level. The case is still pending.
A temporary restraining order that temporarily halted the construction project was lifted on procedural grounds in state supreme court in April. The coalition also filed a request for a preliminary injunction in June after members of the group took pictures of steel girders from the site being loaded into bins destined for the scrap yard. A panel of judges in the state supreme court’s appellate division denied that request.