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Senecas urged to put new casino in town Judge's ruling raises questions on Buffalo site

The Seneca Nation of Indians should reconsider building a casino in Cheektowaga, two elected officials in Cheektowaga said Thursday.

"It bears revisiting," said Assemblyman Dennis H. Gabryszak, D-Cheektowaga, who was supervisor when the Senecas were considering locating their casino near Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

His comments came after last week's ruling by U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny ordering the National Indian Gaming Commission to re-examine its decision permitting gambling on land the Senecas bought in Buffalo.

Cheektowaga's new supervisor, James J. Jankowiak, said placing the casino near the airport still makes sense.

"I was a big supporter of the casino in Cheektowaga," he said.

He was responding to a question on tourism following his State of the Town address Thursday during a Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce lunch in the Millennium Airport Hotel Buffalo.

"I still believe Cheektowaga is the best location for the casino," added Gabryszak, who also attended the lunch.

Cheektowaga was named as the site for the casino in 2003, after the Senecas were having difficulty placing it in Buffalo. Uniland Development was planning to sell the 57-acre Airborne Business Park, east of Buffalo Niagara International Airport, to the Seneca Nation.

Then, in May 2005, State Supreme Court Justice Joseph G. Makowski issued a permanent injunction barring work on the proposed Cheektowaga casino until an environmental impact statement had been completed. Two months later, the Senecas announced the casino would be built in Buffalo. Crews started preparing the site at Michigan and Perry streets several months ago.

"We had the ideal location," Jankowiak said.

It was near the airport, close to the Thruway and the Kensington Expressway and the town's new golf course and away from residential areas, he said.

"I would like to see Cheektowaga considered again for that location," he said.

Gabryszak said the town attorney should look at the latest court decision to see if it prevents the casino from being built in Cheektowaga.

"There may not be anything that could be done," he said, adding, "I don't want to let the opportunity go by."

Jankowiak said he could understand the Senecas might not want to relocate, after spending money to demolish the former H-O Oats grain elevator and prepare the Buffalo site.

But he added: "If all the pieces fit, I would like to see it."


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