NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - Now that the casino cash deal is finally rolling between New York State and the Seneca Nation of Indians, a lot of questions are flowing in Niagara Falls.
To many visitors, it's always been a tale of two cities: an abundance of towering attractions on the Canadian side and the American side, which has traditionally fallen short in entertainment. Some of the new revenue will be used to plug budget gaps and for road improvements, but some are wondering whether the $90 million coming from the Senecas will help the American side compete for tourism dollars.
Mayor Paul Dyster said, "What it means is that we've got some tools in the tool box. We've got some cash that we can use to plug the hole in the short term."
Dyster says the city will still have some tough financial decisions. But he says road projects, for sure, will see benefit from some casino dollars. Assemblyman John Ceretto thinks jobs should be the first priority, followed by infrastructure.
"If your roads are nice, and it's attractive, people will want to come here. It brings people to the area as well," Ceretto argued.
John Percy, president of the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation, says his organization receives a portion of the casino money, about $5 million. He says those dollars will be used to expand marketing programs but admits there's still work to be done.
"What is lacking downtown is retail development, restaurant development, and attraction development," Percy acknowledged.
And speaking of attractions and tourism, it's hard not to notice the towering skyline across the gorge of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Mayor Dyster says his city is competing successfully with Canada and says tourism numbers on the American side are hot right now.
"We're not trying to copy what exists on the Canadian side. They've developed a particular sort of tourism over there. It doesn't make sense to go head-to-head with them," the mayor argued.
But not everyone agrees.
Senator George Maziarz said, "I think we should absolutely mimic what they [do]. I mean, we do more studies about what tourists want to see when they come here. All you have to do is spend $3 to go across the bridge, and you'll know exactly what tourists want to do."
In the end, it's still too early to know exactly how all of the $90 million will be spent, and what benefits the Cataract City will receive from the sudden influx of casino cash.
A Town of Tonawanda restaurant owner has been arrested and charged with strangulation and assault.
The suspension of a 6-year-old boy for kissing a girl at school is raising questions about whether the peck should be considered sexual harassment.
A house became engulfed in flames on Route 243, in Rushford, early Wednesday morning.
The Niagara County Sheriff's Office says two people lied in a formal written statement that was filed with the Department of Social Services.
Lakes will remain active on and off through the weekend.
Kenmore Mercy Hospital is closing its 3 West Patient Care Unit in January, affecting about 30 associates at the hospital.