By Frank Parlato;
It’s no secret that Gov. Andrew Cuomo takes care of his friends, and Jeremy Jacobs, of Delaware North has certainly been a friend to Cuomo.
From funneling millions through the Committee to Save New York to promote Cuomo to donating so much to his campaign that it exceeded contribution limits to hiring Cuomo’s Lieutenant Governor’s husband for $450,000 for what some have called a “pillow talk” job, Jacobs has been there for the governor.
And Gov. Cuomo is cognizant of the fact that Delaware North lost their crown jewel of park contracts, the $146 million annual Yosemite National Park hotel and concession contract, and, if Jacobs is anything like your average billionaire, he was brokenhearted over that.
But it was not only the money, but money was part of it for sure, since Niagara Falls State Park with its measly Top of the Falls Restaurant, some fast food stops, and gift and souvenir stores makes only about 1/10th of what they made at Yosemite.
But it was also the prestige of operating everything in Yosemite, every lodge, hotel, restaurant, store, snack bar, bike and ski rental, and other attractions, almost every concession. To ‘own’ the park and have it taken all away from you. That’s sad. Delaware North was Yosemite for 22 years.
In New York it is a lot easier to get things done than out in the wilderness of national parklands.
At Yosemite, Delaware North had to bid against Aramark, a bigger company, who know how to make donations to politicians as well as Jacobs.
Delaware North lost.
In the State of Cuomo, there is no bidding. Cuomo selects his friends, and the evidence is there for any to see that Cuomo is on the high road to giving the entire concessions of Niagara Falls [not just inside the park] to Delaware North.
A new Yosemite. And it won’t be for any lame 22 year contract, but for 100 years or forever. (like Cuomo’s fief of the Lower Niagara to Jimmy Glynn, the Maid of the Mist owner.)
And with a Niagara Falls State Park so rapidly developed that you won’t know it from any other high-profit, high density development.
Consider the evidence. Cuomo comes to town last month to announce he wants to build a lodge in the Niagara Falls State Park – on Goat Island – a ghastly departure from Olmsted’s plan. But anyone who can add can calculate that Delaware North just lost the lodges, hotels, restaurants, stores and other services and attractions in Yosemite National Park.
Delaware North lost Yosemite Lodge at the [Yosemite] Falls
Cuomo wants to build, say, an Olmsted Lodge at the [Niagara] Falls
But it is much bigger than that.
With four million visitors annually, the Yosemite contract is the most valuable in the national system. And Delaware North lost it. But the Niagara Falls State Park is said to attract 8 million visitors.
Consider that Cuomo has asked for RFP’s to create great new outdoor attractions on Goat Island and open up hundreds of acres in the gorge to new activities.
Delaware North lost giant outdoor areas like Badger Pass. Now they can have giant outdoor areas Goat Island with zip lines, jungle climbs, slides, Ferris wheels, petting zoos, drag racing, roller coasters, and more.
Delaware North can not only maximize revenue on Goat Island but, with elevators, can develop the gorge as well. Instead of Curry Village in Yosemite, it could be Whirlpool Village.
Consider also that Cuomo waltzed into town earlier this month to say that prime property adjacent to the State Park must be developed or else he might consider taking these properties away from the owners through eminent domain.
One Niagara, the Turtle, and other properties were mentioned. These will be needed to develop a Niagara Falls Village for Delaware North.
It takes a village.
Consider this: Cuomo’s bought, with taxpayer money, the historic Hotel Niagara. Now he is giving it to Delaware North. It could be their consolation for the historic Wawona Hotel, that they lost in Yosemite and loved so much.
In the State of Cuomo, this is a bold, new plan. Delaware North will get the lion’s share, with some handouts to other developers like Montante, Hamister, Glynn and others who remembered to be his friend.