NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - A preservation group is trying to halt construction of a new storage facility for the Maid of the Mist tour boats.
A state representative took the media on a behind-the-scenes look at the former power plant where the storage facility is being constructed. Much of the former plant has already been reduced to rubble, but some parts are still standing that have been deemed vital to the region's history. If and when work continues, they would be preserved.
From atop the elevator shaft of the old Schoellkopf power plant you can see the beginning stages of work on the new Maid of the Mist docks, which has been halted by a judge's temporary restraining order.
|>> PHOTO GALLERY | More from behind the scenes at the former power plant|
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said, "One of our most iconic tourist attractions, brand name, associated with Niagara Falls and with New York State around the world, is at risk."
Dyster is not happy with a preservation group formed 45 days ago with the sole purpose of filing a lawsuit against the state and Maid of the Mist to stop the work. The newly formed groups claims the area would not be preserved during or after construction of the new storage facility.
"What it would be like going through tourist season without the Maid of the Mist in place is something O don't want to find out what the consequences are," Dyster said. "But I'm sure it would be economically damaging, not just to the Maid of the Mist but to a lot of businesses around Niagara Falls."
Most of the work at the former power plant must be completed by November 1 to get the Maid of the Mist tour boats out of the water before it freezes.
Pete Gallivan represents Governor Andrew Cuomo in WNY. He argued, "We've followed all the procedures to the letter of the law and we're confident the court will see it that way and we'll be able to proceed."
Gallivan says building docks at this historic site will keep the tourist attraction functional after Hornblower Yachts takes over on the Canadian side, come 2014.
"The state was in the tenth year of a 40-year contract in good standing with the Maid of the Mist, a family-owned business in New York State and Western New York since 1971," Gallivan said. "We didn't think it was right to pull the plug on that."
The state says all preservation guidelines are being followed. Mayor Dyster says it's time to get back to work.
"I think all of us hope this just gets resolved so the construction can resume because if it doesn't get done then we don't know what's going to happen to the Maid of the Mist for next year," Mayor Dyster said.
Both sides are due back in State Supreme Court on Thursday to settle this argument with work either stopping for good or crews getting the green light to continue.
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