SALAMANCA - The Seneca Nation of Indians and the city of Salamanca recently held the first meeting of the Allegany River Development Commission, a joint effort to coordinate and plan capital projects involving the two governments.
The eight-member commission - with four representatives from each - agreed to a commission charter and in their organizational meeting discussed goals and leadership approaches.
"This is a positive move not only for our two neighboring governments, but for all the citizens we serve," said Robert Odawi Porter, Seneca Nation president. "This effort is designed to streamline planning, capital projects and policy initiatives that affect us all."
Salamanca members, appointed by the Common Council, include Irene King, Sandra Brundage, James Griffith and Brad Sande. Nation members endorsed by the nation's council include Sandy Hill, Tracie Brown, Rae Jones and Justin Decker.
"We are more than neighbors, we live, essentially, under one roof," said Jeffrey Pond, Salamanca mayor. "It is entirely logical that we try to centralize and streamline our development efforts for the increased benefit of all our constituents."
The commission's purpose is to establish a formal mechanism for coordination and implementation of joint planning activities between the nation and the city. These are expected to focus on:
development and implementation of a joint long-range economic development strategy to improve the quality of life for all residents of the nation's Allegany Territory;
identification of municipal service needs and capital improvements for the city and nation, the review, analysis and study of areas where municipal services may be shared, including identification of funding mechanisms for each;
conduct projects as identified and approved by the nation and the council that will help generate job growth; retain existing jobs; and stimulate industrial, commercial and residential growth both in the city and the greater Allegany Territory.
Initial discussions are expected to focus on identifying municipal service needs, capital improvement projects and setting priorities in planning and executing these so costs and delivery are more efficient.
Initial funding for the commission - about $25,000 - is expected to come from the nation.
"We'll be meeting not only with the new commissioners, but with nation and city staffs to get this commission moving forward," said Michael Kimelberg, the head of the nation's planning department. "We see many good elements emerging from this effort in the next few years."
The commission's chair will alternate for one-year terms between the nation and the city and the vice-chair will represent the entity the chair does not. All commissioners will serve one-year terms.
The nation owns all land the city is built on and under the Seneca Nation Resettlement Act of 1990, leases it to individuals, businesses and government. The 1990 federal legislation renewed the leases in the nation-owned city and granted the nation $30 million to buy land near its territories, if and when it chooses.