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Senecas, NFTA Board Meet on DL&W Site

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The Seneca Nation of Indians is still eyeing the DL&W Terminal as a potential casino site in downtown Buffalo. Two Seneca representatives met with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Board of Commissioners on Monday.

The Senecas have been talking to NFTA staffers since August about purchasing the DL&W site at the foot of Main Street for a city casino. But Monday was the first time the Senecas held a direct conversation with the NFTA Board of Commissioners. Both sides met for more than an hour behind closed doors.

Seneca attorney Rajat Shah emerged from the session, but would not offer a recorded comment. He said nothing has been decided. NFTA acting chairperson, Mary Martino, says right now they are just talking.

"I think talks are going well, and are very amicable," Martino said. "We will just leave it at that."

Martino says they are not at liberty to discuss the details in public, and that includes a price. But she does believe that the Senecas are still looking at the DL&W site for their third casino.

"The Senecas are doing their due diligence on the property," Martino said. "They have brought their engineers to look at the property, as we will with ours, and when that is complete, we will know."

The DL&W terminal is used for a number of NFTA operations. But authority leaders say no matter who buys the property, transportation services will remain at site. NFTA Executive Director Lawrence Meckler could not say if a deal is expected in the very near future.

"We have agreed with the Senecas that we would not make any comments about the status of negotiations," Meckler said. "We continue to negotiate and we continue to hold discussions. There is no final agreement at this time. We can't comment any further because that is what we agreed to."

The Senecas have already purchased nine acres of land in the city's Cobblestone District, spending $2.7 million. And just a week ago, Seneca President Barry Snyder says he "guarantees" they will break ground in December for a casino. Under the gaming compact with the state, the Senecas are obligated to make a site-selection for a third casino by December 9th.