Tonawanda News

Local News

September 13, 2013

Marine crane delivery marks Maid site progress

Tonawanda News — NIAGARA FALLS — The Maid of the Mist got a big delivery on Thursday.

The company that has run the boat fleet that takes visitors to the bottom of the falls received the components of a marine crane it will need to take its boats out of the water this fall for winter storage.

The massive German crane made its way from Europe to the former Schoellkopf Power Station site where the company is constructing a new dry dock facility. 

The crane was shipped into Canada and then crossed over the Peace Bridge in Buffalo before arriving in parts on flatbed trucks at the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center parking lot Thursday morning.

Kevin Keenan, a spokesman for Maid of the Mist, said the company was happy to see the crane delivered, as it is a symbol of the progress that construction crews are making on the dry docks.

Maid of the Mist lost its right to operate the attraction on the Canadian side of the gorge — where the winter storage facility exists — to California cruise boat company Hornblower Cruises & Events.

The Niagara Parks Commission, the provincial agency that runs the parks system in Ontario, opened the contract to run the attraction to bidding after receiving complaints from companies during negotiations to renew a contract with the Maid of the Mist in 2009.

Hornblower will begin operating the attraction in Ontario next spring and will gain rights to the facilities at the beginning of 2014.

Hornblower’s 30-year contract with the parks commission will see the company pay the province $500 million over the duration of the agreement.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the Maid of the Mist would invest $32 million into a new docking facility on the former Schoellkopf Power Station site, which is owned by the New York Power Authority and overseen by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, so that the company could continue operating the attraction under its 40-year agreement with the state signed in 2002.

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