Tonawanda News — The Tonawanda council discussed sending Judge William Skretny the city’s own recommendation on how Tonawanda Coke’s potential sentencing fines should be spent if the funds are ordered to stay local.
The discussion comes as the city, the Town of Tonawanda and and environmental activists position themselves to stake a claim to a portion of what’s expected to be a large federal fine against Tonawanda Coke.
The coke-making facility faces a possible $200 million or more in fines when sentenced for violating two federal environmental laws. Mayor Ron Pilozzi suggested the idea at Tuesday night’s work session in light of the Clean Air Coalition’s weeklong community poll on how the possible fines should be spent.
As part of the nonprofit’s effort, more than 500 residents voted on 15 possible environmental projects that would benefit the areas affected by Tonawanda Coke. The top 10 projects were revealed at a Clean Air tally late last month.
“I don’t think there was anything specific and indigenous to the city,” Pilozzi said.
Pilozzi said the city could conduct its own polling, or wait and see if fines are imposed before sending in a recommendation — an option he preferred.
“It might be years before this comes about, and what we want now might change by then,” he said.
But Councilman Richard Slisz disagreed.
“If you don’t make the decision now, he is going to issue a ruling, and then the decision will be made and that will be it,” he said. “They destroyed this community and the after effects will bring years of cleanup, I’m sure there is a lot of contaminated soil ... it’s going to be another Spaulding Fibre.”
The council also discussed plans for the former Spaulding site, which is ready for development as a business park.