On Monday, March 19, Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-I-Lewiston, will meet with New York State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey to discuss recent developments regarding the Niagara Parks Commission's decision to award its contract to operate steamboats in the lower river to Hornblower, a cruise-ship company. Ceretto's main goal for the meeting is to ensure that New York, particularly the Niagara Falls-area tourist agencies, are not dependent on Canadian officials for its own tourist operations.
"These developments and conversations about boat storage on the Canadian side of the river indicate to me that New York needs to get to work to ensure that our renowned steamboat operations are not dependent on outside parties, but remain independent," Ceretto said. "I plan to ask Commissioner Harvey what her strategy is moving forward and if it includes the state building its own docks or other maritime infrastructure."
Currently, boats that depart from the U.S. side are stored on Canadian soil. With Hornblower's acquisition of rights on the Canadian side, this no longer seems likely.
"We have many things to discuss with Commissioner Harvey, but we must deal with the fact that New York has to operate independently of Canada, and that discussion has to happen first. Without that independence, nothing else matters," Ceretto said. "I want to compete with the Canadian side for those all important tourist dollars, and we must be able to control our own destiny when it comes to this tourist magnet; that is our first challenge."