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Niagara Falls Council calls for a halt to Seneca Niagara gas station project

NIAGARA FALLS – With work already underway on a Seneca Niagara “energy station,” the City Council on Monday unanimously called on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office to halt further construction.

The upscale gas and electric refueling station and convenience store on Seneca Nation land on Niagara Street, near the intersection of John B. Daly Boulevard, became a sore spot immediately after it came to light in February, with businesses in the area calling the proposal unfair with its potential for offering untaxed gasoline and cigarettes.

The Council called for Cuomo to take whatever action is necessary to put a stop to construction, which at this point has involved clearing the land.

Seneca Nation President Maurice John Sr. said in February that the project is in keeping with “the sovereign rights as recognized by the federal government” and called it a catalyst for development along the Niagara Street corridor.

Mayor Paul A. Dyster said a letter on the issue was sent to the state in March. The state, not the city, is responsible for protecting the interest of the local municipality, according to the Nation-State Gaming Compact.

In 2012, the state stepped in and called a gas station proposed for the Falls site not in keeping with the Nation-State Gaming Compact, which then ended any plans to go forward.

A March 2016 letter issued by the Governor’s Office referred to the same arguments as in the 2012 letter, noting, “The sites (in Niagara Falls and Buffalo) shall be utilized for gaming and commercial activities traditionally associated with the operation and conduct of a casino facility.”

In the letter, issued by Robert Williams, state special assistant counsel, Cuomo said that none of the proposals to develop casino facilities suggested a development of a convenience store and/or gas station.