Tonawanda News — The struggle to keep Tonawanda Coke’s potential sentencing fines local has turned political, as Mayoral candidate Rick Davis is criticizing incumbent Ron Pilozzi for failing to fight for the city’s portion of the funds.
Davis’ accusations come after Pilozzi brought up the matter at the City of Tonawanda’s last council meeting. Pilozzi suggested sending in a list of city-specific projects that could be funded with the fines if they are ordered to stay local.
Although the Clean Air Coalition conducted an intensive endeavor to prepare a list of possible projects to the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Attorney’s office, Pilozzi said none of the top 10 projects were “indigenous to the city.”
But Pilozzi said he is worried about sending in a list of projects now, as it could be years before the fines are a reality.
“I just want to make sure some time element is involved so that we are not making decisions now for something that his happening years from now,” Pilozzi said. “I don’t want to give people here hope that it is going to happen quickly. But maybe I’m wrong.”
But Davis said he thinks the submittal of projects would have to be done before Judge William Skretny makes his decision on Sept. 30, when the coke-making facility could face $200 million in fines for violating two federal environmental laws.
“Until called out on this recently, Pilozzi has not submitted anything and wants to continue to wait while other affected communities are way ahead of the power curve. They are standing up for their residents and doing what they were elected to do. It’s high time our mayor did the same,” Davis said.
Davis pointed to other communities, such as the Town of Tonawanda, that are in the process of preparing their own lists of environmentally friendly projects.