Governor Cuomo made his first stop in Niagara Falls since he has taken office nearly a year ago, and delivered some good news about the future of the Maid of the Mist. As YNN's Antoinette DelBel reports, an agreement has been reached to keep the tour boat running for years to come.
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — The future of the Maid of the Mist's American operations is no longer up in the air.
"Governor Cuomo has saved the Maid of the Mist. She was in trouble, but he saved her."
An agreement backed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and local leaders has been worked out by state parks, the Maid of the Mist Corporation and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to keep the boat excursions operating.
"Niagara Falls is a jewel - a jewel that we haven't invested in, that we haven't given the time and attention that it deserves, in my mind, but it has phenomenal potential," said Cuomo.
Up until now, the Maid of the Mist’s future has been uncertain.
Its contract with the Niagara Parks Commission in Canada is set expire at the end of 2013, and earlier this year, officials there announced a new company would operate tours starting in 2014.
The move left the Maid of the Mist without a place to store its boats over the winter months.
"We shouldn't be dependent on any foreign country, even Canada, for operation of one of our leading tourism attractions," said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.
Now, the family-run Maid of the Mist will invest $32 million of its own money into restoring the former Schoellkopf Power Station site along the U.S. shore. The construction will include a dry dock facility for boat storage and maintenance.
"Facilities will be enhanced at the site, how we're going to transform a parcel that was in disrepair, and make it available for recreational purposes," said Christopher Glynn, the president of the Maid of the Mist Corp.
The new winter storage site, which will be located along the gorge, will replace the old one near the base of the Horseshoe Falls in Ontario.
"It's going to be smart for the Maid of the Mist. It's going to be smart for the city, smart for tourism. It's actually going to generate more dollars, so it's a win win win all around," said Cuomo.
Construction at the Schoellkopf site is expected to begin after an environmental review early next year.