North Tonawanda, because of its industrial past, is known to have a high percentage of residents with health problems such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, cancers of many types and other conditions.
In addition to the land along the Niagara River waterfront, on Tonawanda Island, the Buffalo Bolt complex, contaminated residue from other operations throughout the city that once employed many thousands of residents still host environmental nightmares beneath the soil.
When might we have an update from North Tonawanda officials on the "May 2014 600 River Road Apartments Fact Sheet Remedy Proposed for Brownfield Site Contamination," the 45-day public comment period of which ran from May 30 through July 14, 2014?
The site being considered for conversion into apartments would be an NT attempt to create what the City of Tonawanda did with Shoreline Apartments, also located on a former industrial site. It would offer fantastic views but the potential for an NT Love Canal. The entire Niagara River frontage and all of Tonawanda Island sit on an environmental nightmare.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation reported that, in consultation with the New York State Department of Health, it had determined that the River Road site does not pose a significant threat to public health or the environment. What written comments were submitted during the public comment period—and what responses, if any, were given?
The proposed remedy, per the report, "requires the site to be covered with two feet of clean soil placed over a demarcation layer. Existing topsoil meeting soil cleanup objectives will be removed and stockpiled for later re-use before placing any additional cover. An environmental easement will place use limitations on the property and require the site owner to complete and submit to DEC a periodic certification to ensure the institutional controls and soil cover system are maintained and not impaired by erosion or other activities on the site."
The proposed "remedy" was developed by Rock One Development, LLC, after performing a "detailed investigation" of the site under New York's Brownfield Cleanup Program.
Results of the remedial investigation indicated that "several samples across the site have elevated levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon and metal concentrations both in the surface and subsurface soils above NYS Restricted Residential soil cleanup objectives. This confirms the results of previous investigations on the property. Groundwater concentrations of a few metals exceed NYSDEC standards however no significant groundwater contamination was identified on-site and local ordinance mandates the use of municipal water."
NYSDEC was to consider public comments, revise the plan as necessary, and issue a final Decision Document. NYSDOH must concur with the proposed remedy and was required to make its report also available to the public. An applicant for using the site could then design and perform the cleanup action to address the site contamination, with oversight by NYSDEC and NYSDOH. How much taxpayer funding and tax credits will be required for this one site, which is part of what was the extensive Tonawanda Iron Works operations from 1873 until 1972?
Do they really think anyone would knowingly want to live on top of that mess? Do the residents of Remington Lofts realize their over-priced homes are on a similar "remediated" Brownfield site? Is that site a danger to residents living on Tremont and Oliver Streets? Is the length of time in placing occupant businesses in the Buffalo Bolt Business Park due to the fact that it also is a covered over contaminated site? The Carousel Park Apartments building was also constructed on top of a former industrial site. Gateway Center sits on what was for decades a textile manufacturing operation. Are tenants at risk at Carousel Park and Gateway Center? Are all of these sites a danger to the residents living on neighboring streets? Are residents at risk if we drink municipal water because of these sites and others contaminated by our industrial past?
We can, of course contact NYSDEC and NYSDOH—but we deserve the answers from those we expect to represent us in City Hall.
What has been the taxpayer cost of Buffalo Bolt Business Park, the Webster Street shopping district, Gateway Park and Gratwick-Riverside Park to date? What revenue have they brought in so far?
Has a fund been set up to recompense residents who develop health problems from these "covered over" environmental messes?
For those who want to express their concerns or let the people in office know of things that matter to those who live in North Tonawanda, following is a list of how to get in touch with those currently "representing" us:
Mayor Arthur G. Pappas - 695-8540 City Hall; 693-4619 Home
Common Council President P. Russell Rizzo - 693-9128
Alderman at Large Robert Pecoraro – 692-0237
Alderwoman Donna Braun - 695-8059
Alderman Eric Zadzilka - 695-9599
Alderman at Large Catherine Schwandt - 694-8465
City Clerk's office - 695-8555
City Treasurer's office - 695-8570.