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Senecas award 15 grants to help 'our neighbors'

Seneca Nation of Indians officials Tuesday were joined by community stakeholders from around the waterfront to announce a series of grants.

Last year, the Seneca Nation committed $1 million to fund improvements near the 9.5-acre Buffalo Creek territory. A permanent casino at Michigan Avenue and Perry Street, next to the temporary casino, is expected to open next year.

"We need to learn more about our neighbors because this is our sovereign territory and we're always going to be here as a nation, not just because we have a casino business, but because this is always going to be our territory," said Seneca President Robert Odawi Porter.

The nation is using revenue from Seneca Gaming Corp. to award 15 grants totaling $764,879 for such things as exterior improvements to homes and businesses in the Old First Ward and a bike-share program along the waterfront.

In addition, the nation set aside $235,121 for neighborhood lighting and signage.

The awards were decided by the Seneca Nation after a series of meetings and input from community stakeholders. An advisory committee received 31 applications.

Grants of $100,000 each were awarded to the Old First Ward Community Association, the Edward M. Cotter Fireboat Project, the Buffalo River Rowing Center and the Valley Community Association.

The grant opportunity prompted the Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association to think about how a new boathouse on the Buffalo River could be a community asset.

"They helped us conceive of ways the public can come in, 24 hours a day, and they can look at the river," said association board member Craig L. Thrasher.

Other recipients include the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority, the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society, Buffalo BicycleShare, the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo, Re-Tree WNY and Chef's restaurant.

A groundbreaking on a permanent Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino is expected next month, said Jim Wise, senior vice president of marketing for Seneca Gaming Corp.

email: jterreri@buffnews.com