Niagara Gazette

April 21, 2013

GLYNN: Village looks at waterfront plans

by DON GLYNN
Niagara Gazette

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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CITED FOR ROLE: William E. Leggiero Jr. of Lewiston, has been named the recipient of the coveted Chairman’s Award presented by the Buffalo Federal Executive Board. Recently retired as director of the Federal Small Business Administration’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center, formerly located in downtown Niagara Falls, Leggiero served as chairman of the Federal Executive Board from 2008 to 2012.

Leggiero will be joining several other award winners from civilian, military, postal and law enforcement  agencies at a luncheon May 8 at the Buffalo Convention Center.

The Buffalo FEB is a group of agencies to identify and advance common issues impacting the nation at large, such as emergency preparedness, employee safety and security.

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ON CAPITOL HILL: A descendant of a pioneer state lawmaker from the Cataract City was welcomed to the floor of the state Assembly in Albany this past week. Bob Welch, a great-great nephew of Thomas V. Welch, and his wife Anne Welch, clerk-treasurer of the Village of Lewiston, were welcomed to the capitol by Assemblyman John D. Ceretto, R-Lewiston. Thomas Welch served as the first superintendent of the Niagara Falls State Park after it was established in July 1885. He also had a role in approving legislation for the city charter for Niagara Falls in 1892.

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RADICAL REACTION: A customer at a North End store on Friday was sounding off about the bombings near the Boston Marathon. “They should take away all those backpacks from everyone. Ban them! They’re worse than them assault rifles!” Tell that to the countless millions of Americans, especially students, who use backpacks daily.

Contact reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, 2246.