Niagara Gazette

Local News

May 2, 2013

Court ruling on Maid of the Mist work disputed

Niagara Gazette — A federal advisory council specializing in historic preservation believes an “adverse effect” ruling would have been more appropriate during the environmental review process tied to the construction of a new Maid of the Mist Corp. boat storage facility on the American side of the Niagara Gorge. 

In an April 29 letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation questioned the Corps’ “no adverse effect” finding for the project which is being built on the old Schoellkopf Power Plant site. 

In his letter, Reid Nelson, director of the Office of Federal Agency Programs, says the Army Corps should have considered making a finding of “adverse effect,” and engaged the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the New York Power Authority and other consulting parties to develop a memorandum of agreement to resolve any adverse effects tied to the project.

Nelson’s letter stopped short of endorsing the formal position of the Niagara Preservation Coalition, a local non-profit organization that has taken legal action in recent weeks in an effort to prevent the construction project from moving forward.

“Though we do not agree with the substance of NPC’s position, based on our review of the documentation provided, the ACHP believes that a finding of ‘adverse effect’ would have been more appropriate in this case,” Nelson’s letter reads. 

Niagara Preservation Coalition President Louis Ricciuti said the letter supports his group’s argument that the power authority and the Army Corps made procedural errors in submitting paperwork necessary to alter the Schoellkopf site, which was recently added to the National Registry for Historic Places. 

That admission would have required a public hearing process that would have delayed the project, providing the public an opportunity to weigh in on the site.

Ricciuti believes the agencies were so hurried to move the project along that they did not properly identify how it may adversely effect the integrity of the Schoellkopf site itself.

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