Niagara Gazette — “There was no opportunity for a public hearing,” he said. “They pushed this thing through so damn fast that there wasn’t an opportunity to do anything like that.”
Maid of the Mist spokesperson Kevin Keenan referred requests for comment to the power authority. The power authority did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
The Maid of the Mist needs the new storage facility because it lost the rights to operate its concession on the Canadian side of the gorge following a public bidding process. Hornblower Cruises and Entertainment — a California based cruise company — secured rights to the Canadian operation and will begin offering tours next year.
The Maid of the Mist has an existing 40-year contract with state parks that it signed in 2002. With 30 years left on the contract — which was not put out to bid — the Maid needs a new place to store its fleet during the winter, as the storage facilities are on the Ontario side of the gorge.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last year that the state would amend its contract to allow the Maid to continue its operations by letting the company develop a new storage facility on the American side.
Hornblower sued the Maid and several state agencies in an effort to reopen the concession on the American side. The parties argued the lawsuit in April and are awaiting a decision from New York State Supreme Court Justice Catherine Nugent Panepinto.
The NPC also sued the Maid and several state agencies, alleging they ignored possible environmental risks associated with disturbing the Schoellkopf site and that the facility would damage the historical integrity of the site, among other concerns. The group’s lawsuit was dismissed by Panepinto on procedural grounds last month. Representatives from the Army Corps and Cuomo’s office exchanged emails with the Gazette, but did not offer comments by the time the story went to press.