Niagara Gazette — The Maid of the Mist will live to see another tourist season.
And 29 more after that thanks to an agreement signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and company owner James Glynn in Niagara Falls on Tuesday.
Cuomo and Glynn signed a memorandum of understanding between the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the New York Power Authority and the Maid of the Mist Corp. that will allow the company to store its fleet at the Schoellkopf Power Station site and continue operating from the American side of the gorge.
As part of the agreement, the company will invest $32 million into the NYPA-owned Schoellkopf site, which will become an attraction of its own. Along with improvements necessary for the storage and maintenance of the boats — storage buildings, a new boat elevator — the company will also enhance access to existing hiking trails, adapt the boat elevator platform to be used as a public observation deck and possibly open up the side of the gorge for rock climbing and rappelling.
The agreement also calls for the company to pay more to the state each year. The memorandum of understanding requires the company to pay state parks $105 million over the course the remaining 30 years in the contract — three times as much as it would have under the existing contract signed in 2002. In 2014, the company will give the state at least $2.2 million, nearly a 50 percent increase over the $1.47 million it paid in 2011.
Cuomo, who was visiting Niagara Falls for the first time since taking office, said that putting the Schoellkopf site to use and maintaining the relationship between the Maid of the Mist and the state is “just smart.”
“It’s going to be smart for Maid of the Mist, smart for the city, smart for tourism,” Cuomo said. “It’s actually going to generate more dollars.”