Tonawanda News — NIAGARA FALLS — State officials renewed their committed Tuesday to an agreement with the Maid of the Mist Corp. while publicly endorsing the company’s plan to develop a new boat storage facility on the former site of the Schoellkopf power plant.
During a press conference at the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center, state officials responded to legal action taken by the recently formed environmental group, the Niagara Preservation Coalition.
In a lawsuit currently pending in New York State Supreme Court, the coalition claims that the state’s plans to turn the former power plant site into a new boat storage facility will jeopardize the historic integrity of the property. Coalition members have also expressed concern that the land may contain toxic contaminants.
On Friday, State Supreme Court Justice Ralph A. Boniello III issued a restraining order barring contractors from performing work in the Niagara Gorge at the Schoelkopf site while the court evaluates claims made as part of the coalition’s lawsuit.
During Tuesday’s press conference, Pete Gallivan, the director of communications for Empire State Development’s Western New York region, said the state is confident the order will ultimately be lifted and that the lawsuit will be dismissed once all of the evidence has been reviewed.
“We’re complying with both state and federal law and right now we’re confident that the courts will see it that way,” Gallivan said.
The Maid of the Mist has pledged to spend more than $30 million to turn the site into a docking and storage facility for its fleet, while also installing hiking trails and other tourist attractions at the former power plant. In December, Maid of the Mist owner James Glynn and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a memorandum of understanding that altered the terms of an original 2002 agreement to include the use of the power plant site.