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Thomas opposed to Maid of the Mist plan

   The area's top state parks official said Monday he opposes the Maid of the Mist's plans to build a storage facility at the former Schoellkopf Power Plant.

   Mark W. Thomas, regional State Parks director, reiterated the state's position in a meeting with park commissioners. State Parks officials in Albany previously said the plan would be challenging, but Thomas put the state's position in more direct terms. 

  Thomas3  "Our public position on that is we don't think it's a viable alternative," Thomas said. 

   The Glynn family last week announced that its plan to save the iconic company in light of losing its Canadian tour-boat contract involves building a steel docking area at the site. 

   "We didn't say it was going to be easy, but if folks in New York want independence from Canada and a long-term solution that can afford the revenues they've been reading about, then that's the long-term solution," Maid of the Mist Co. president Christopher M. Glynn said.

   The company will lose its current boat-storage facility in 2014, when Hornblower Cruises of San Francisco takes over the Canadian operations.

   State Parks officials have said the site would require geological, environmental and engineering studies that would take two years -- and could be too late for Maid of the Mist. In addition, construction of a storage facility would need to be publicly bid on.

   "We really believe it would be a two-year window to get that not only investigated and permitted but in [the position of] actually building something," Thomas said.

   Maid of the Mist officials said Tuesday they are also considering other sites, though they previously declined to name those.

   -News Niagara Reporter Charlie Specht ([email protected])

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