Tonawanda News — “The projects had to be something that reduces environmental impacts, or reduces future pollution that can cause health problems,” Newberry said. “They also have to be located in highly impacted neighborhoods.”
A pollution prevention project secured the most votes, with 260. The project would cost $250,000 and would help manufacturers in the Tonawandas, Grand Island, and Riverside reduce toxic chemical use, emissions and waste.
The creation of a community environmental health institute came in second, with 236 votes. The institute’s work would be targeted at improving the health of Western New York residents affected by air pollution through research, prevention and training. The cost of creating the institute would total $15 million.
The Wickwire Park redevelopment project secured 217 votes and would cost $4 million. The proposal details the purchase and renovation of the 40-acre site along the Niagara River, aimed at providing waterfront access, job creation and alternative energy generation. The project would cost $4 million.
Newberry said the coalition will send the voting results and project descriptions to the EPA, U.S. Justice Department and Skretny.
The tallying event was attended by many activists who spent years fighting against the River Road company, as well as local politicians, including City of Tonawanda Mayor Ron Pilozzi and Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Anthony Caruana.
Prior to the tally announcement, volunteers who led the polling process chanted “this is what democracy looks like,” and William Yelder, of the coalition, spoke in support of the community’s leadership.
“What I’m really excited about is what Tonawanda has done,” he said. “What you were told you can’t do, what you have been through, well, you are leading the way in Western New York in taking control of your community.”The top 10 projects were: • Pollution prevention project: 260 votes • Environmental health institute: 236 votes • Wickwire Park project: 217 votes • Health study: 209 votes • Tonawanda tree farm: 209 votes • Relocation fund: 197 votes • Endowment: 192 votes • Worker toxic exposure education: 163 votes • Riverside Park tree project: 111 votes • Energy audit for the town: 90 votes • Black Rock, Riverside garden: 80 votes Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter at @JessicaLBagley