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Seneca Nation grows with almost $100 million in capital improvement projects

SENECA NATION – The Seneca Nation of Indians is in tune with the main characteristic of the spring season – growth.

The nation is in the midst of five new capital improvement projects, and one continuing project from last year, totaling almost $100 million, creating jobs and strengthening the local economy along the way.

In April, the nation completed a $30 million administration building on its Allegany Territory. Groundbreaking for the project took place June 6, 2008.

The 90,000-square-foot Allegany Administration Building has three floors of office space and meeting rooms to accommodate 18 Seneca Nation departments and almost 200 employees.

The Seneca Construction Management Corporation is managing the project, which was designed by a partnership of Two Row/Kideney architects. The $30 million project bond was financed through the Seneca Capital Improvements Authority.

The Seneca Nation formed the wholly-owned government authority in 2006, borrowing $160 million in tax exempt and taxable bonds to improve infrastructure and construct new community buildings in the nation’s two territories in Allegheny and Cattaraugus.

“This is another great day for the Seneca Nation and the Capital Improvements Authority by providing quality services through the construction of a new administration complex,” said Rod Pierce, a tribal councilor and president/CEO of SCMC. “Our nation is continuing to grow and prosper through careful planning and designing optimal infrastructure projects for our members’ safety and use.”

Just a few weeks after finishing the administration building at Allegany, nation officials gathered at a groundbreaking ceremony for a $10 million renovation and expansion of the William Seneca Administration Building on the Cattaraugus Territory.

The building, which was originally constructed in 1974, will almost double in size and capacity. A two-story addition and a complete renovation of the existing building will provide 41,800 square feet to meet the growing needs of the nation’s administration and staff, officials said.

Seneca Nation President Barry Snyder compared the expansion of the William Seneca Building to the nation’s growth.

“We as a nation have come a long way in the 30 years since this building was built in 1974. We have achieved many things in this time. William Seneca himself, who served as both president and treasurer in the 1970s, and for whom this building was dedicated in 1985, was about progress, generating economic opportunities and generally improving living conditions for the Seneca people. He would be proud. We have made progress, we have grown dramatically, and the quality of life for our people has indeed improved. Likewise, this building itself will receive a facelift and an overhaul and come to symbolize the progress we have made and the advances we continue to make at the Seneca Nation.”

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Carmina, Woods, & Morris Architects have incorporated traditional Seneca elements in their building design and landscaping. The primary design elements borrow from the iconic Tree of Peace which brought the original five nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy together in peace, unity and friendship.

The project is scheduled for completion in May 2010.

The CIA has also bonded twin sports/community centers, one on each of the nation’s territories. The combined cost of the projects is $40 million.

The centers will have similar programming and facilities. Each will be 92,000 square feet with a capacity for more than 3,000 people. The entryways will serve as community gathering spaces with a coffee bar in each grand foyer. Each facility will have a four-lane indoor competition-sized swimming pool. The Allegany center will have one gymnasium and Cattaraugus will have a double gymnasium with elevated walking tracks in all three.

Other features include lacrosse arenas with tiered seating and special luxury boxes designated as “Elder Seating.” There will be concession areas, kitchens, multipurpose and fitness rooms with aerobic and weight lifting equipment.

On May 9, the nation held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate water projects totaling $7 million, including a new elevated water tank, waterline and water treatment plant. The projects represent a benchmark on the road to self-sufficiency, allowing the nation to provide water services and fluoridated water to its members and an estimated 170 households in what is known as the “Jimersontown” community on the nation’s Allegany Territory.

The water projects will also supply all the nation’s administrative buildings, including the health center, the new Allegany Administration Building, Early Childhood Learning Center and the Seneca Allegany Casino. The City of Salamanca, which is located within the nation’s territory, currently provides water services to the Seneca Allegany Casino, but this will change with the new tank in operation.

Snyder said a needs analysis determined that the water projects were a solid economic investment based on the growth of the community and the Seneca Allegany Casino.

“Establishing our own water services is a significant step for the Seneca Nation toward further strengthening our economic position and exerting our independence as a sovereign nation.”

The Seneca Nation is also completing a $12 million expansion of its Lionel R. John Health and Wellness Center at Allegany. The facility will almost double in size to 21,000 square feet, with more examination rooms, human services quarters and staff offices.

Snyder noted the significance of the Seneca Nation undertaking these separate construction projects simultaneously on its two territories during these challenging economic times.

“This is significant for two reasons, first because the extent of the construction is a clear indication of the Seneca Nation’s growth and our ability to meet the increasing needs of our membership, particularly in terms of health and wellness. Secondly, our construction and expansion projects are important because it means jobs,” Snyder said. “We are putting people to work and that’s not only good for the Seneca Nation, that’s good for Western New York. We’re proud of the fact that we’re still growing, we’re busy building and expanding; and we’re making meaningful contributions to the economy.”