12/13/05 08:17 - 18ºF - ID#28248
Location: Buffalo, NY
12/12/05 08:10 - 13ºF - ID#28247
Falls Casino Taking over
The picture above is from Niagara falls, it is in the Buffalo News. The lady pictured is from the article below. I'm not sure why the indains where promised 56 acres of land that sounds like way to much for me. But now that they don't have all of it, it looks like the state may start taking peoples homes through Eminent Domain. to me it seems weird that they would do that to give the land over to the sencas but it sounds like that is what is going to happen. I think the falls made a bad deal. It is one thing when people sell hotels but when you start kicking people out of there homes then that is something else. That being said we did the same thing to the indains in the past. We stole there land put them on a piece of land then if coal, diamonds, gold or oil where on there the government would come in and kick them off the land. So maybe this is Karma sord of but it still sounds evil. But on the other hand if they can get the water park to be profitable and stay open maybe it is worth it The entire article is below or you can read it at their site also.
FOCUS: EMINENT DOMAIN
In Falls, the house trumps homes
State is taking private property so Senecas can expand casino and hotel
By GAIL NORHEIM and DAN HERBECK
News Staff Reporters
Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News
Patricia Van Egmond, 71, stands outside her Fifth Street home in Niagara Falls. She is in danger of losing her house to the Seneca Nation of Indians through eminent domain.
NIAGARA FALLS - Patricia Van Egmond's Fifth Street home has been in her family since 1937. It breaks her heart to imagine a bulldozer knocking it down to make room so a casino can expand.
Van Egmond, 71, opposes a controversial plan by New York State to force property owners to sell 26 acres of Niagara Falls land for use by the Seneca Nation of Indians.
The land - including homes, a hotel, restaurants and a multimillion-dollar water park - would be purchased by the state and turned over to the Senecas.
The Senecas plan to tear it all down and build at least one new hotel, parking facilities and other amenities for their Seneca Niagara Casino. One hotel owner, facing the state's threat, sold his hotel to the Senecas last week.
The state casino agreement with the Seneca Nation has different provisions for Buffalo, so most people dismiss the idea of a similar situation occurring as the Senecas build a casino in the Cobblestone District.
But in Niagara Falls, the state said it intends to use eminent-domain powers to obtain property for the Senecas. Eminent domain refers to the constitutional power of government to force people to sell their property for use in projects that benefit the public.
According to several experts, the Niagara Falls case is extremely rare - possibly the first time in the United States that a government has used eminent domain to obtain land for a Native American casino.
"The original intent of eminent domain was to help government get land for bridges, roads and other projects that benefit the public," said Adrian T. Moore, vice president of the Reason Public Policy Institute in Los Angeles.
"Now, government is taking private lands to give them to a sovereign nation to expand a casino," he said. "Casinos are notorious money machines. It's hard for me to believe they can't buy the land without the government's help."
The affected property owners have until Dec. 20 to file appeals if they want to fight eminent domain and try to keep their property.
Von Egmond does not want to lose her well-maintained two-family home. For her, the place brims with memories. She and her late husband, Gerald, raised three daughters and a son there. In recent years, family members have gathered at the home every Sunday for dinner.
She questions whether a casino provides any benefit to the public. She has spoken to an attorney and expects to file an appeal.
But Von Egmond seems resigned to the likelihood that the home will wind up as part of the casino project. She has heard that legal fees for fighting the government could be $10,000 or more.
"I'm not happy with it," she said, "but I don't think we have a choice."
The state compact
When New York State signed a compact with the Seneca Nation of Indians in 2001, the state gave the Senecas the right to develop a 52-acre "footprint" around the Falls casino.
The Senecas purchased 26 acres but have not been able to acquire the other 26 acres. That's where the state now comes in, threatening to use its power of eminent domain to acquire the remaining land.
The biggest landowners among those affected by the eminent-domain proceedings are Niagara Falls developers John P. Bartolomei and Roger Trevino.
Their company, Fallsite LLC, owns 17 of the 26 acres, including the Fallsville Splash Park on John B. Daly Boulevard. Fallsite is controlled by Niagara Falls Redevelopment, a company backed by Howard Milstein, a Manhattan real estate billionaire.
Fallsite has hired a top eminent-domain lawyer to represent it, and, according to Bartolomei, it is willing to fight the issue all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"This is downright illegal," Bartolomei said. "No one has had the audacity to suggest giving a piece of private property to a sovereign nation."
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that governments can use eminent domain to obtain properties for private developments that benefit the local economy. The ruling upset organizations like the Reason Institute, whose members feel governments have gone too far in their use of eminent domain.
Niagara Falls city officials say the current assessed value of the 17 Fallsite-owned acres is $8.5 million, but the two developers say the land is worth much more, largely because of ambitious plans they have for a huge entertainment project.
How much is the property really worth?
"Hundreds of millions," Trevino said.
But the water park was closed from 1996 until this summer, when Trevino and Bartolomei decided to reopen it. The developers also announced their intention to build an $800 million entertainment development on the property. City officials say the water park's assessed value is expected to rise because of the reopening.
Did the developers reopen the water park in hopes of jacking up the amount of money they could get from the Senecas?
"Of course not," Bartolomei said.
And yet the other company Bartolomei and Trevino are involved with, Niagara Falls Redevelopment, may someday benefit from eminent domain. NFR is authorized to ask the city to use eminent domain to help it obtain property in a 142-acre area near the casino.
"We have no intention. We don't want to do it," Bartolomei said. "Some people are holding out, but we're trying to sit down with them."
The other properties
Among the other properties the state targeted for the Senecas are a Pizza Hut restaurant, a Ramada Inn, a Holiday Inn and nine homes, including Van Egmond's.
Gennaro Villella, the founder and owner of a Ramada Inn on Fourth Street, sold his hotel to a Seneca Nation subsidiary Friday, according to Villella's attorney, Mark R. McNamara. The hotel's assessed value is $2.3 million, but the sale price was not announced.
The Van Egmond home's assessed value is $70,800. The family said the Senecas have offered them 10 percent above the assessed value. The family feels that offer is unreasonable, because Van Egmond receives reliable income from a tenant who rents out half of the home.
The Senecas' casino compact with the state required the Senecas to first try buying those properties on the open market. If the Senecas couldn't get them at reasonable prices, the state promised it would step in and use eminent domain.
The Senecas offered fair market value for all the properties and made a "full effort" to buy them without using eminent domain, said Philip J. Pantano, spokesman for the Seneca Niagara Casino.
The Senecas and a state agency defend the use of eminent domain for this purpose. In a statement issued last month, the state Empire Development Corp. said there were moral reasons behind the decision.
"The governments of the United States and the State of New York have determined that each has a moral responsibility to secure a fair and equitable settlement for past inequities" related to the improper taking of land from the Senecas in the 19th century, the agency said.
Although the land taken over by the Senecas will no longer be taxable, the Senecas said the casino development in Niagara Falls will bring benefits to the community, including new jobs and increased gambling profit sharing.
"We're already one of the fastest-growing private-sector employers in the region," Pantano said, noting that Seneca gambling operations now employ about 4,000 people in Western New York.
The compact requires the Senecas to pay for any land that is acquired under eminent domain in Niagara Falls. According to Pantano, the Senecas will pay for any outside legal fees resulting from appeals of the proceedings.
Because of the wording of the compact, eminent domain is unlikely to be used in Buffalo, according to both Mayor Anthony M. Masiello and Mayor-elect Byron Brown.
The compact makes no promises to the Senecas that they are entitled to specific properties or that any government entity will use eminent domain, they said.
"Our situation is not Niagara Falls'," Masiello said. "In the compact, a specific section of land was set aside [in Niagara Falls] for a casino. It calls for the state to use eminent domain to get the land, if needed. In Buffalo, there's been no specific land set aside. The Senecas have been efficiently going out and buying their own land. There's been no mention of using eminent domain."
The Senecas' president, Barry E. Snyder Sr., has said the Senecas have no present intent to seek eminent-domain action in Buffalo.
What would Brown do if the Senecas someday asked the city to use eminent-domain powers to obtain property for the Buffalo casino?
"I don't really anticipate the need for that," Brown said. "I would prefer to avoid it unless it was absolutely necessary and only if it could be demonstrated that it was for the public good."
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Location: Buffalo, NY
12/11/05 11:58 - 29ºF - ID#28246
Location: Buffalo, NY
12/10/05 06:56 - 29ºF - ID#28245
The ever changing face of elmwood
Location: Buffalo, NY
12/06/05 07:30 - 20ºF - ID#28244
The Silos Coming down?
I have to admit that I think a casino is a good idea. However this article in the buffalo news makes me wonder. The way that I understand the story below is that the sencas are going to knock down the Silos also known as grain elevators in the picture above. This is a sign that they are not doing things the right way. First of all if they are protected nocking them down would be illegal. But If it is a soverign country that may not apply, not really sure. But there there is bigger question. First of all if the silos are protected then why was the land they are on was sold. To me that makes no sense. I could see if a historic bilding was on land that was sold to someone else and as part of the deal they where fully aware of what they can and can't do to the building. If it is protected there are all sorts of permits you have to get approved based on what kind of changes you want to make. Basicly you can only restore it to its original condition most of the time. But another question comes to mind. If you don't know if you are going to buy the D&L terminal then how can you plan what you are going to build whare and if that building should come down. It seems to me that something fishy is going on and Buffalo may have already screwed things up before they get started, lets hope the entire process isn't like this. I think The Senca's want to knock it down So they can have room to Put up a Hotel there. I would like to hear peoples views on the article and the casino even if you disagree.
Senecas to raze historic city grain elevator
Preservationists suing to save H-O Oats site from demolition as part of casino project
By MARK SOMMER
News Staff Reporter
Dennis C. Enser/Buffalo News
Before construction of a new casino moves forward, the Seneca Nation wants the H-O Oats grain elevator downtown to come down.
The Seneca Nation of Indians is planning to begin demolition of the historic H-O Oats grain elevator and mill Thursday.
The Senecas took ownership Saturday of 9 acres in the Cobblestone District to develop a casino. The site, which includes the defunct mill and silos, is bordered by Perry and Fulton streets, and Marvin Street on the east.
A wrecking ball is scheduled to smash into the building at 10:30 a.m., one day before the Dec. 9 deadline to meet the terms of a gambling compact with the state. Gov. George E. Pataki is expected to be there for the ceremonial groundbreaking.
Preservationists, who are furious over the demolition, claim the nation is ignoring federal, state and city preservation laws and showing a lack of respect for Buffalo's history.
The H-O Oats complex was one of 16 grain elevators in Buffalo made eligible three years ago by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
"H-O Oats is a magnificent landmark," said Tim Tielman of Campaign for Greater Buffalo, which is filing a court injunction with other organizations to block the potential sale of the nearby Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad terminal for conversion to a casino.
"We're losing the type of industrial architecture that is valued so much that people elsewhere are resorting to building fake industrial loft space."
Seneca spokesman Phil Pantano declined to comment on the future of the H-O Oats site. With the nation continuing negotiations to acquire the DL&W Railroad terminal, it could choose to use the newly acquired property to build a new casino and/or a series of parking lots.
H-O Oats came to New York State in 1893, and the brick-and-concrete mill opened in 1912, one of several mills in Buffalo. The familiar towering concrete silos, painted silver with "H-O Oats" inscribed in black, were added in 1931. It has long been a landmark to travelers driving along the Niagara Thruway.
Oat production at the grain elevator ended in 1983, and a fire in 1987 destroyed a portion of the facility.
The building once had three distinct kinds of silos - wood, steel and the surviving concrete, according to Lorraine Pierro, president of the Industrial Heritage Committee. Its unique history was one reason the Department of the Interior compiled a Historic American Engineering Record on Buffalo's grain elevators in the 1990s, according to Pierro, who expressed regret at the Seneca's decision.
Geoff Butler, who lives across the street from the grain elevator in the Lofts at Elk Terminal, expressed anger at the pending demolition and the lack of any public input.
"I think it's a damn shame. A big reason you move down here is because the neighborhood is like living in a historical museum. I would have reconsidered moving here if I had known there was going to be casino parking," Butler said.
But John Webb, who lives nearby on Perry Street, said he thought removing the grain elevator would be a boon to the area.
"I don't have attachments [to the buildings]. I think it will bring a lot of jobs to the area," said Webb, adding that he is part-Cherokee and glad the Seneca Nation is in Buffalo.
Empire Dismantlement, a demolition company, has been working at the former H-O site since Saturday. Electrical, gas and water lines were severed in recent days, and asbestos abatement is continuing..
The demolition of the mill building is expected to take as long as two months. The silos are expected to be demolished at a later date.
Several critics of the project said the Senecas were showing insensitivity by not including the public in its decisions.
John Laping, chairman of the Buffalo Preservation Board, regretted there has been none of the scrutiny or public input required in Buffalo. "It's too bad the Seneca Nation does not feel the same kind of civic responsibility," said Laping.
Richard Lippes, the attorney filing the lawsuit against the purchase of the DL&W site on the grounds that it violates state and federal law, agreed. He hopes the Senecas will reconsider its decision to destroy the H-O Oats complex.
"The Senecas, perhaps more than most, should understand the importance of our history and our environment, and respect these historic structures," Lippes said.
Location: Buffalo, NY
12/05/05 08:57 - 25ºF - ID#28243
Location: Buffalo, NY
12/04/05 06:23 - 28ºF - ID#28242
Chains or is that Diamonds?
Elmwood & Aurburn Finally all fixed up
Location: Buffalo, NY
12/04/05 12:08 - 26ºF - ID#28241
Location: Buffalo, NY
12/03/05 08:03 - 26ºF - ID#28240
First of all (e:Jason) was correct I really did enjoy soulive (pronounced Soul live as one word). They where the headliners and I had to sit from being so tired for part of there show. I forget the first bands name she was a hot sexy black chick who could really sing it started with a D and her last name was cotton she was really good and so was her band I should have bought a CD for not doing that I'm a fool. Living Colour was very good, I didn't know there new stuff but it was still a great time. The Doors where supposed to open at 7pm but didn't open untill 8 at least. At 7 there was still hardly anyone there but by the time the first band came on it was packed good. The show didn't end untill about 1:30 am by my watch. On my way home I went down Allen St. and froze my ass off. There where People standing around outside nietches and Allen St. Hardware and a couple other places like it was nothing and I was frezzing, but all in all I had a fun time. I bught one of soulive's CDs hopefully I will get to listen to it soon. If i'm into it I may buy somemore of them. I forgot to mention there was a hot group of girls there also wow they where smoking hot those lucky guys.
Location: Buffalo, NY
11/30/05 08:19 - 33ºF - ID#28239
I hate when I fall asleep to early it messes everything up the next day. I was listing to the sabres and missed most of Bones, a smckdown special and the Sabres. But what it also did was make me sleepy this morning and I could never really wake up. I did have turkey for lunch and dinner so maybe that is what did it. Luckly we didn't have much work today so it worked out good. But I have a fealing we may get barried I hope not. But I also don't want to finish up to early either. Well I'm off to catch the end of that 70's show I forgot to tape this christmas special Brian setzer is performing. He is the guy from the stray cats. Wich brings up a point does anyone know of any good Funny christmas music? maybe it could be about rudolfs nose being red from using cocaine, or about your crazzy family. Also does anyone know how to change the text Color of your journal enteries? I used to do it all the time but don't know how since there is that try color breakdown I don't know what that is or what it does either and help would be cool, thanks.
Location: Buffalo, NY
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