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Judge halts construction of Maid of the Mist facility

A State Supreme Court judge today put a temporary halt to construction on the Maid of the Mist's new boat storage facility in the Niagara Gorge.

Judge Ralph A. Boniello III signed a temporary restraining order requested by a group known as the Niagara Preservation Coalition, according to its attorney, Linda R. Shaw.

The group wants proof the proper environmental reviews for the site have been completed, Shaw said.

Supporters of the Maid of the Mist have said they believe the group was created by those close to Hornblower to try and delay the dock construction, a charge Hornblower officials have denied.

The Maid of the Mist lost out to Hornblower Cruises & Events of California on an agreement to provide boat tours from the Niagara Falls, Ont., side of the falls.

The Maid of the Mist needs to build a boat storage facility on the U.S. side of the falls before the end of the season because it had previously stored its boats on the Canadian side.

Hornblower also has filed a lawsuit challenging Maid of the Mist's agreement with New York state.

The issue of the temporary restraining order is set to be taken up before State Supreme Court Judge Catherine Nugent Panepinto on Thursday.

Lou Ricciuti, a Niagara Falls resident with an interest in radiological contamination, is president of the Niagara Preservation Coalition, which has previously called for an investigation of the Maid of the Mist's contract because of what it terms environmental and historical concerns about the property.