Mayor Byron W. Brown refrained from criticizing the Seneca Nation of Indians this week, saying that he hopes a downtown casino is successful and that any move to cut off services to the project would be premature.
Brown weighed in on a resolution by Common Council Member Michael J. LoCurto that cites as-yet-unfulfilled promises for job creation and other benefits for the city in an agreement with the Seneca Nation. The resolution seeks to rescind the 2006 agreement, cut off sewer and water services to the casino and recover the land that was transferred.
Brown was asked whether he was disappointed with plans for a new permanent Buffalo Creek Casino, which call for a smaller structure and more surface parking lots from what was originally proposed.
"I would say that there have been a number of extenuating circumstances," he said. "Certainly there have been lawsuits that have impacted the casino development downtown.
"There is a new proposal now by the Seneca Nation to move forward with construction of a permanent casino," he added. "That process is moving forward. As with any development in the city, we continue to watch and monitor. We want to see this development move forward, we want to see this development be successful and put people to work in our community."
A new $130 million casino, on nine acres at Perry Street and Michigan Avenue, is under construction. Seneca Gaming Corp. believes that it will be a good fit with the neighborhood.
Opponents, meanwhile, have said the impoverished area around the casino won't benefit because the smaller casino will create fewer jobs and attract mostly local residents.
Brown described the agreement involving the city, the Seneca Nation and Seneca Gaming as complicated and noted that the city sold a portion of Fulton Street to the Senecas. The land was purchased by Seneca Gaming for $631,000.
"I think any measure to cut off sewer or water services would be premature, would be problematic, but the Council should go forward with its process," Brown said.
The resolution by LoCurto, who represents the Delaware District, was sent to the Council for consideration following about an hourlong discussion by the Council's Community Development Committee. Opponents to the casino told lawmakers to support the resolution.
The committee sent it along without recommendation. The resolution isn't expected to be voted upon until city lawyers are able to brief lawmakers behind closed doors on their legal options regarding the agreement.