Updated: Wednesday, 07 Apr 2010, 10:42 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 06 Apr 2010, 5:52 PM EDT
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - The Maid of the Mist is one of the oldest tourist attractions in the world, but controversy behind the scenes is casting a dark cloud on the future of the famous boat rides.
Maid of the Mist operators were putting the docks in place. The season starts this Saturday. But there's a new question about who should operate the boat tours.
Former Niagara Parks Commissioner Bob Gale said, "I'm outspoken, I look into things."
Gale thought it was wrong that the Canadian government never put the job out for bid, but was ready to renew the contract with the Glynn Family, which has operated the Maid of the Mist Corporation for 40 years. Here's a letter from the owners of Ripley's Believe It or Not asking the Commission "defer making any decisions on renewing the lease until we have the opportunity."
"This was wrong, this was not fair what went on, so the best tender in a fair process will win this," said Gale.
Now, Maid of the Mist is on a month-to-month contract basis as the Niagara Parks Commission is preparing to put the job out to public bidding. This rebidding process only deals with the right to operate on the Canadian side. As for the American side, the NY State Office of Parks is locked into a 40 year agreement with the current operators of the Maid of the Mist.
President of Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation John Percy, Jr. said, "Everything is built around Maid of the Mist, so any type of disruption in that service for this year I think would be totally detrimental for the future as well."
The Maid of the Mist Corporation has the trademark on the name and plans to rebid.
Tim Ruddy, VP of Marketing for Maid of the Mist, said, "We are hopeful the result will lead to Maid of the Mist being able to operate boat tours to visitors for several years to come."
About a dozen companies are expected to bid for the job including, possibly Disney. But even if a new company is chosen, we probably wouldn't notice any change for at least a couple summers.