Niagara Falls Boat Rides to Continue

An agreement announced by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls for Maid of the Mist Corp. to pay more to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and to invest $32 million in improving a site to provide winter storage for the boats.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced an agreement on Dec. 3 that will prevent the Maid of the Mist scenic boat rides at Niagara Falls from closing down. It provides for the Maid of the Mist to continue to operate in the Niagara Gorge and to produce increased revenues for Niagara Falls State Park.

The family-run Maid of the Mist Corp., based in Niagara Falls, N.Y., plans to invest $32 million in the former Schoellkopf Power Station site to make it suitable for the boats' winter storage. When these improvements are complete, New York State Parks will own the facilities.

"The Maid of the Mist tours by the world-famous Niagara Falls waterfalls and of the Niagara River Gorge are a signature tourism attraction of Western New York," Cuomo said. "The agreement that the state of New York has reached with the Maid of the Mist for a winter boat storage location on the New York side of the falls will ensure that this Western New York corporation continues to bring great value to the region's tourism and economy, including increased revenues for State Parks. At the same time, the agreement provides for capital improvements for enhanced outdoor recreational attractions for the public's enjoyment, making this multidimensional accord a win-win for Niagara Falls State Park, the region, and New York State."

The Schoellkopf storage site will replace the current winter storage location near the base of the Horseshoe Falls in Ontario, which Maid of the Mist cannot lease as of 2014 because the province of Ontario has awarded the tour boat business on its side of the falls to a California company.

Maid of the Mist's license payments to State Parks are projected to be $105 million during the 30 years remaining on the amended contract, an amount three times larger than projections when the contract was initially approved in 2002.

Construction at the Schoellkopf site will include a new elevator, a vertical marine lift for moving the boats into and out of the water, enhanced access to hiking trails, and the potential for a future rock-climbing and rappelling feature.

New York State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said Maid of the Mist "has been a wonderful partner for Western New York and New York State for many years and will continue to be under the multilateral agreement, which includes expansion of public recreational features by the Schoellkopf facility, in the City of Niagara Falls."

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