Maid of the Mist construction project at Niagara Falls to continue.

Construction of the Maid of the Mist boat landing at the site of the old Schoelkopf Power Plant in the City of Niagara Falls is set to continue. New York State Supreme Court Justice Catherine Nugent Panepinto has agreed to permit construction by the Maid of the Mist Company.   I’m sure the issue will continue on in the courts and I am hopeful that the Maid of the Mist Falls cruise boats have found a home.  There is plenty of room in the gorge and enough tourists for more than one business to handle.

In 2009,  I had the opportunity, along with Kelly Kukucka and Karl Barna, to hike into that portion of the gorge on a now rarely used and rigorous hiking trail leading to the Schoelkopf  Power Plant ruins. We were led by a state parks’ naturalist because we had been directing work crews renovating hiking trails at Whirlpool, Devil’s Hole and Artpark State Parks. I am certain none of the Maid of the Mist opponents and new preservationist group have ever visited the site.  I am equally certain they had not previously been interested in the area until now and all the talk of millions of dollars..

There are 1930s era WPA constructed hiking trails to Schoelkopf which are covered by a number of very large boulder rock slides. The base of the plant is covered in rubble. It is currently inaccessible to the every day tourist.  The power plant itself collapsed in 1956 when when the whole gorge wall gave way.  I feel a clean up  of the area will commence.   Click the link to read about the Schoelkopf disaster.  It is rather interesting.

This project will do more to generate public and tourist awareness for this location than there has been over the past 57 years. Once the project is completed and people get down there for the boats, they will be will be fascinated by the beauty and the views.  They will begin advocating for more and better access.  It will lead to restoration of well prepared trails. Rebuilt trails could potentially make it possible to hike and/or fish the gorge all the way from the base of the American Falls Observation Tower down to Whirlpool St. Park and the Robert Moses Power Plant in Lewiston some 7 miles distant.  The  gorge has the potential to be a great addition to the Niagara Falls experience.  It is quite beautiful and dramatic looking at the Falls from above, from below at the Cave of the Winds, from the Maid of the Mist, and hiking the gorge.  The whole tourist experience will benefit and local history will be learned in the process.



If Cleveland and Baltimore, why not Buffalo?

In Orchard Park, NY there will be a $130 million dollar renovation of Ralph Wilson Stadium, the home of the NFL Buffalo Bills franchise.  The 40-year-old stadium’s lifespan is being prolonged and it is hoped that the future of the Bills’ team in Western New York will be secured by a stadium replacement

One thing that needs to be kept in mind is that the current facility is unsuitable for any sporting event other than American Football.  The configuration of the field precludes its use as a multipurpose ground.  Any new facility must be multipurpose.

Cities like Cleveland know that.  Their NFL franchise the Cleveland Browns know that.  Their stadium,  First Energy Stadium, is multipurpose.  It hosts other events, such as college and high school football games, soccer games, and concerts.

The U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team announced that on May 29th, it will play an exhibition match against the Belgian Men’s National Team at First Energy.  People from around the nation will come to Cleveland for the match.  Hotel, food, car rental, and entertainment spending will be generated in the community for this match.

Just just this past summer in Baltimore, “M & T Bank Stadium” (M & T is headquartered in Buffalo), the home of the NFL Baltimore Ravens played host to an English Premier League Football (soccer) match between the Tottenham Hotspur and  Liverpool Reds attracting 50,000 fans.  Money was made that day.

In Orchard Park, after the NFL season and local high school football championships,  Wilson Stadium remains unused, unproductive, and non-revenue producing for remaining 95% of the calendar year.  We really have to think about what is of benefit to the community when deciding to invest hundreds of millions of dollars on sporting facilities.  When the time comes, do we really want to invest in single use structures over multiuse?  Please don’t say “yes” to single use.


Small number of fans giving Borussia Dortmund big problems.

A small group of people is causing problems for thousands of  living in Buffalo’s Sister-City/Twin Town of Dortmund, Germany.  Their football (soccer) club, historic Borussia Dortmund, is one of the premier clubs of German football.  It plays in the largest football stadium in Germany.  Their matches have been making news because a small group of neo-nazi thugs have infiltrated the grounds attempting to draw attention to themselves and their discredited agenda.

The call of racist chants and an increase in violence have occurred during league matches and have brought negative press to this giant of the BundesligaUSA Today has just reported the problem in a recent issue and was very clear in announcing that the perpetrators number roughly 100 and appear in a section of the huge Westfalenstadion   which accommodates some 24,000 fans of its 80, 600 capacity.

This is probably the same amount rowdy drunks that can cause problems in our Ralph Wilson Stadium  which at 73,000 seats for Buffalo Bills games is only slightly smaller than Westfalenstadion.  The only problem is full blown hatred is much more dangerous than people who’ve had a beer too many.  And yet in either case everyone gets labeled.

The type of intolerant behavior being exhibited in Dortmund, or anywhere else in the world, has no place in a civilized society..  Over the centuries it has wreaked havoc on nations and continents.  No sense in retelling the story, we all know the dangers.

Dortmund like Buffalo is a city of immigrants and colors.  We share a history of  industrial might and are both in the process of reinventing themselves due to shifting economies.  We owe an offer of moral support to our Dortmunder friends.  Let’s hope that the great fans of Borussia Dortmund and good people of the city don’t’ allow the few to get away with mindless anger in trying to end 68 years of growth and progress. .

Buffalo-Dortmund have had ties since 1977.