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What Nik Wallenda Will Owe New York State

12:34 PM, May 10, 2012   |    comments
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Nik Wallenda announces date of high wire walk in Niagara Falls with Senator Maziarz

NIAGARA FALLS, NY -- As a private businessman, whatever profit Nik Wallenda ends up making for crossing Niagara Falls on tight rope may remain between him and his sponsors.

However, details are beginning to emerge regarding what Wallenda will have to pay the State of New York in order to perform the stunt, now scheduled for the evening of June 15th.

While it's yet to make public the entirety of contracts signed just Tuesday, The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (State Parks) has released to Two On Your Side, some of the details of its agreement in principle with Wallenda.

According to the agency's Deputy Public Information Officer, Dan Keefe, the terms of that agreement will form the basis of a detailed written permit, which State Parks says will be issued in the next several weeks.
Under the agreement in principle, Wallenda will:

• pay State Parks a $50,000 permit fee, as well as $150,000 to reimburse the state for costs to manage the event, including police overtime, installing barriers and other safety equipment, and on-site emergency medical services.
• reimburse the state up to $25,000 for any post-event restoration work necessary in the park, such as repairing asphalt or resodding lawns.
• provide reimbursement for lost revenue, if any, due to any interruption of other park offerings, such as the Maid of the Mist or Cave of the Winds. (Although no such interruption is anticipated as the tight rope walk will take place at night).

To minimize any potential for interruption, Wallenda's crews won't begin rigging the rope over the gorge until after the final Maid of the Mist Tour on Wednesday June 13, approximately 48 hours before the crossing is scheduled to take place

The agreement in principle specifies that Wallenda will perform on June 15th; with no apparent provision for any "rain date" should the stunt have to be postponed for severe weather or for any other reason.

As well, Wallenda has not spoken of any alternate date.

62nd district New York State Senator George Maziarz (R-Newfane), who lead the effort to get the state to issue Wallenda a one-time exemption to its law against stunting at the Falls (thus making the walk possible) believes that despite what the permit says, Wallenda can choose an alternate date if he needs to.

"You have separate the legislation passed (to allow the stunt) and any actual contract and I believe the legislation would supersede the permit. Under the legislation, Nik has a year from when the Governor signed the law to allow this, which would mean he (Wallenda) could perform his walk as late as September," Maziarz said.

With the rigging installed though, Maziarz believes that (if necessary) Wallenda would merely postpone the walk (scheduled on a Friday) to either Saturday June 16 or even Sunday June 17 and still be able to draw tens of thousands of onlookers on either of those weekend dates.

Canadian officials also had to allow Wallenda to perform by relaxing their prohibition against stunting.

While it can be presumed that Wallenda has also signed an agreement outlining what compensation he will make to the Canadian Government, Two On Your Side has yet to obtain details of any such pact.

However, a source claiming to be familiar with with the negotiations, cautioned that Wallenda's permission from Canada to perform the stunt extends only until June 30.

That person spoke on the condition that their name not be published, because they do not have the authority to speak publicly on behalf of the Niagara Parks Commission.

Back on the U.S. side of the border, State Parks says Wallenda will also be required to sign a separate all-inclusive indemnity agreement as well as obtain a $20 million general liability insurance policy for the event.

WGRZ-TV, wgrz.com

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