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LoCurto urges city to rescind
 '06 casino accord with Senecas

A member of the Common Council is calling on the city to end its agreement with the Seneca Nation of Indians and cut off sewer and water services to the downtown casino.

Delaware Council Member Michael J. LoCurto is seeking support for the measure, citing a lengthy list of promises contained in the 2006 agreement that have not been fulfilled.

Seneca leaders broke ground on a $130 million permanent Buffalo Creek Casino in August, a scaled-back version than was originally planned, but one that Seneca Gaming Corp. Chairman Robert Mele said will be "state-of-the-art."

The permanent structure, at Perry Street and Michigan Avenue, will replace a temporary metal building that opened in 2007.

LoCurto said the city forecloses on houses for not paying their taxes, so it should take a similar approach with the casino. The resolution also calls on the city to reclaim the 9 acres that were transferred to the Seneca Nation and recover costs the city incurred related to hosting the casino.

The resolution states that the agreement between the city and the Seneca Gaming Corp., Seneca Erie Gaming Corp. and the Seneca Nation has not been followed because the structure under construction is not what was originally discussed, reports on agreed-upon marketing efforts have not been made to the city, 1,000 promised jobs at the facility have not been created, and infrastructure improvements have not been made.

Seneca Nation President Robert Odawi Porter responded Monday, questioning why "the answer to not enough jobs on a project is to halt it altogether."

Sam Magavern, co-director of the Partnership for the Public Good, which is opposed to the casino, called the structure now under construction an "urban convenience casino" that is not intended to draw tourists and will attract only local residents.

"The city has a right to say no, this isn't what we were promised," said Magavern, who helped write the resolution.

The measure does not have any co-sponsors yet, and it is not clear how it will be received, as some Council members have offered contrasting views.

"I think it's time for this body and this current administration … to utilize the power we have been given," Ellicott Council Member Darius G. Pridgen said during Tuesday's Council meeting.

Pridgen, who said he is in agreement with LoCurto, said that it is important to stand with elected officials in Niagara Falls, where the city's share of slot machine revenue has not been received locally because of a dispute between the Seneca Nation and the state.

Council President Richard A. Fontana, of the Lovejoy District, said last week that he does not think cutting services to the casino is the best course but that he agrees with LoCurto the agreement should be followed.

The casino's existence downtown is the subject of federal litigation brought by a group of citizens, who questioned Seneca Gaming's decision to move forward with construction on a permanent casino while the lawsuit is pending.

According to Porter, the Buffalo Creek Territory is sovereign Seneca Nation land, an assertion that is being challenged in court.

"What we do on that land, and when, is the choice of the Seneca Nation, its council and Seneca Gaming Corp.," Porter said.

The issue will be discussed at 1 p.m. today by the Council's Community Development Committee. A member of the Brown administration is expected to speak to lawmakers behind closed doors about the agreement, although not likely during today's meeting.

The Brown administration declined to comment Monday on the legislation.