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Senecas assure city on casino land purchase

The president of the Seneca Nation of Indians assured Buffalo officials Friday that the tribe does not plan to make land purchases beyond the boundaries of its proposed 9-acre downtown casino.

Four Common Council members, Mayor Byron W. Brown and several city administrators met for a few hours in Niagara Falls with Seneca Nation President Barry E. Snyder Sr.

Council members have raised concerns about how much land the Seneca Nation intends to purchase, and whether it plans to open other businesses unrelated to casino gaming, such as tax-free tobacco shops or gas stations. Some lawmakers fear other businesses could be hurt if the nation acquires vast tracts of land and develops enterprises on sovereign Indian territory.

Council Majority Leader Dominic J. Bonifacio said Snyder promised to file with the city a letter stating the nation's intentions involving land acquisition.

"It's very important that they don't build plazas, gas stations and other stuff downtown," said Bonifacio.

North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr., who chairs the Council's Community Development Committee, said Friday's meeting and other recent discussions are helping to address some lingering concerns.

"We brought up a lot issues, and it was a very frank discussion," said Council President David A. Franczyk.

Public safety around the proposed casino, the need for street improvements and the nation's request to build a pedestrian bridge between the casino and a parking structure were among the issues discussed. Franczyk and Bonifacio said no final decisions were made.

University Council Member Bonnie E. Russell also attended the meeting.


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