TOWN OF TONAWANDA — A longtime advocate in the fight against air pollution in the Town of Tonawanda’s industrial corridor was honored Monday night bythe town board.
Town Supervisor Anthony Caruana read a proclamation on behalf of the board, recognizing Jackie James-Creedon for her seven-yearstruggle to expose Tonawanda Coke as a major source of harmful emissions in the area off of River Road.
After founding the C
lean Air Coalition in 2005, efforts to document higher-than-normal levels of benzene and other chemicals in the area culminatedin a 2009 Department of Environmental Conservation report confirming Tonawanda Coke Corp. as a prime culprit.
“This is really nice and it will look great on my wall but it’s really important because of who gave it to me,” she said ofthe proclamation presented at Monday’s Town Board meeting.
Caruana also acknowledged her current role as head of a group called Citizens United for Justice, through which a benefitfund was recently formed to ensure her own independent air monitoring can continue, as well as plans to eventually help compensatethose who have fallen ill as a result of conditions in the area.
James-Creedon, who still conducts her own air monitoring (since DEC monitors in the area only take samples once every sixdays) said she plans to conduct soil tests as well.
She spoke at the meeting to stress that, despite several pending lawsuits and numerous sanctions against the plant for underreportingemissions, conditions in the neighborhoods surrounding the River Road facility still aren’t safe, as residents continue toreport irritation in their eyes, nose and throat consistent with caustic byproducts.
“It is indeed a long, long fight and I will continue to fight for justice,” she said.
Residents who want to help can contact James-Creedon at 873-6191, or email her at email@example.com.
Also at Monday’s meeting:
• The board authorized a consortium including the town, Cheektowaga and Amherst to again seek federal funding used to provideaffordable housing in all three communities.
The town’s Director of Community Development Jim Hartz said the program funded for the past two decades through the Departmentof Housing and Urban Development has a waiting list in the town of 400 residents.
However, Congress recently cut 40 percent of program funds, which translates into a loss of $140,000 for the town specificallydespite the backlog. Hartz said the town expects to receive some $208,000.
Amherst was again appointed the lead agency in securing the funds. The program provides about $1 million in affordable housingconstruction or renovation nationwide.
• Councilman Joe Emminger said the first phase of the town’s massive Parker-Fries sewer project is winding down near the intersectionof Koenig and Fries roads. The second phase of the four-phase project should begin in a little more than a month, continuingsouth from the same intersection.
• Emminger also provided an update on an upcoming sanitary sewer rehabilitation project near the corner of Orchard and Clevelanddrives, which was bid to Insituform Technologies for $908,000.
That project is expected to be complete sometime this fall, and will cost roughly half the original estimate of $1.8 milliondollars.
• Another project aimed at water line improvements on Delaware Road and Sheridan Drive, south to the village line is slatedto begin this summer, and may affect opening day at Kenmore West High School in the fall.
Contact reporter Neale Gulley at 693-1000, ext. 4114