Seneca Nation citizens flocked to the grand opening of the new state-of-the-art $23 million community center on the nation’s Alleghany Territory April 2 for a ribbon-cutting and flag-raising ceremony and celebration.
President Robert Odawi Porter, Seneca Nation councilors and the nation’s Capital Improvements Authority participated in the ceremony to honor the opening of the facility, which includes a swimming pool, a full gym and an indoor lacrosse arena. A new community center will soon open on the nation’s Cattaraugus Territory.
“This community center and the one that will open on the Cattaraugus Territory later this month are perhaps most representative of the Seneca Nation’s commitment to the well-being and health of our youth and the quality of life for Seneca families,” Porter said.
The nation began construction on the center two-and-a-half years ago and didn’t stop despite the recession since it was a government priority to deliver “signature buildings” to the community, Porter said. The community center is the latest in a series of building projects that include new administration buildings at both the Alleghany and Cattaraugus territories, which opened last year. The new $30 million complex in Salamanca houses the nation’s governmental offices, courts, and meeting rooms, and features a Grand Hall and state-of-the-art high technology Council Chambers. The building provides office space for 200 nation employees. The 21,000-square-foot William Seneca Building in Cattaraugus is the first phase of a $10 million projected that will see the adjacent, former administration building converted and expanded to double its size.
When all building projects are completed, the nation will have injected more than $180 million into the local economy. The Allegany and Cattaraugus cost approximately $23 million each.
The Allegany Community Center is the first of the two “green” buildings that will be Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified. The design team used recycled materials, regional building products and ultra-high efficient equipment to construct the facility, which is located on the site of the former Seneca Nation government complex.
Green principles will be carried over to the general building operations as well.
“The nation has dedicated significant resources to the building of this community center, and the one in Cattaraugus, in support of our greatest resource, the children and the future of the Seneca Nation,” said Council Chairman Richard Nephew. “It is with great pleasure that we open this facility for our families and the health of our community.”
“We built them to serve the needs of all ages,” Nephew noted. “Over the years, we heard requests for more recreational needs for health- and sports-minded community members. Our health professionals have stressed the need for opportunities for diabetes prevention recreational programs. The goal is healthier and happier communities for generations to come.”
The 93,000-square-foot facility was constructed in collaboration with the Seneca Nation leadership, Capital Improvements Authority, Seneca Construction Management Corporation, and KTH Architects. The design was developed using community surveys and meetings to determine the interior programming.
The centers on both territories will feature similar programming:
- Capacity to serve more than 3,000 people.
- Entryway is a community gathering place, with soft seating and free Wi-Fi.
- Indoor, competition-sized swimming and therapy pools.
- Wood-floor gymnasium that separates into two smaller gyms.
- Elevated walking track overlooking the gym.
- Brightly lit lacrosse arena has tiered seating for more than 750 people.
- Luxury box seats with coffee bar designated as “elder seating,” in the arena, with high-end finishes and movie-theater seats.
- Commercial concession areas, with kitchens.
- Multipurpose rooms in each facility with commercial kitchens. Rooms may divide into two rooms so more than one group can utilize the room at a time.
- Fully equipped fitness rooms with cardio and weightlifting equipment.
- Small studio for dance, yoga, or spinning classes.
- Colorful room designated for youth recreation.
The Allegany Education Department also relocated to this site, and the facility contains three classrooms, for college courses, tutoring, and cultural classes.
“The opening of this facility marks yet another step forward for the Seneca Nation as we support the next generation in sports and healthy activities and lifestyles that lend themselves to team-building, character development, cementing life-long friendships, and will serve to bind our community together in ways that few things can,” said Capital Improvements Authority Chair Odie Brant Porter. “And this is more than ‘just’ a sports facility, grand as it is, since the concourse area lends itself to spontaneous gatherings, where we hope our community will come together informally.”
KTH Architects from Dubois, PA designed the building, under the leadership of Senior Project Manager Darryl John of the Capital Improvements Authority, which supervised the design and construction of the project. The facilities’ designs integrate Seneca culture throughout by using the eight Seneca Clans and other features. The curving walls emulate the Allegany Territory’s rolling hills.
The Seneca Nation of Indians is one of the six nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. The nation lives on five aboriginal areas in western New York, south of Buffalo, including sovereign territories in Niagara Falls and Buffalo where the nation operates resorts. The Senecas traditionally controlled trade and protected the western territories and earned the title “Keeper of the Western Door.”