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Mecca Rallies the community behind Golombek resolution, issues Call to Action

Kathy Mecca, the President of the Columbus Park Neighborhood Association (who many refer to as Buffalo’s version of Jane Jacobs, the legendary community organizer who stared down and defeated Robert Moses, the most powerful bureaucrat in modern American history) is rallying the community behind Common Council Resolutions 37 & 38, sponsored by Councilmember Joseph Golombek.

Resolution #37 will extend the DEIS public comment period for the NY Gateway project to the Peace Bridge, and Resolution #38 will request that the White House Counsel on Environmental Quality and U.S. EPA  investigates the federal and state environmental review processes undertaken for the Peace Bridge related projects since January, 2012.

Environmental activists suspect that recent air monitoring was manipulated by the Cuomo Administration for political purposes. Governor Cuomo has made his agenda to expand the Peace Bridge Plaza very clear since taking office. The Cuomo Administration has issued two questionable air quality reports which the Clean Air Coalition and the Columbus Park Association alleged were improperly monitoring air quality at the plaza to cover up the well documented asthma and cancer epidemic on the West Side.

Mecca explains, “It’s the responsibility of our government to prove to us that what they are doing is safe before they do it. That’s the law.  Both the federal and state government has failed this very basic standard miserably. Our community deserves the highest standard of research and testing because of the thousands of residents who are already sick.  We have empirical, peer reviewed University studies which the EPA accepts as fact on air pollution at the Peace Bridge plaza and bridge. Why would we ever accept studies that are ‘dummied’ down to satisfy a political agenda?”

Earlier this year, the Cuomo Administration engaged in a hostile war of words with Canadian appointees to the Public Bridge Authority’s governing board, in an effort to seize control of $140 million in construction contracts on the American side of the bridge. The Canadians scoffed at the suggestion that the PBA would simply hand over its cash balances to the Cuomo Administration, which observers suspect would have enabled a politically driven contracting process.

The months long spat was widely seen as political grandstanding, and in the process deeply damaged the region’s relationship with our Canadian partners and jeopardized the pre-clearance program that the neighborhood has fought for years to achieve.

Erin Heaney, who leads the Clean Air Coalition, asserts: “It’s time to take the politics out of this process.”

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Photo credit: Peter Certo, over looking the Niagara River and the Peace Bridge customs plaza. The West Side of Buffalo suffers from shocking rates of childhood asthma and cancer — affecting broad swaths of the city West of Main Street — and linked to diesel emissions and prevailing lake effect winds.

“I not only support the resolutions but also think the actions they resolve are critical  to restore some level of credibility to the laws of our land; because as the DOT has evidenced so far, the regulations are worthless unless there is honest compliance.  I also think Councilmember Joseph Golombek is a rarity among elected officials: a smart man with a conscience,” says Peter Certo, one of many intergenerational residents of the West Side who form the backbone of the neighborhood’s organizing effort to save itself from government engineered destruction.

Mecca and the neighborhood association are asking the community to show their support for the resolutions on Tuesday, January 21 at 2:00 pm in Council Chambers, when the Council is expected to vote on the resolution. For more information about the public health threats that the Peace Bridge poses on the West Side of Buffalo, visit Move the Plaza, and for more information on Resolution’s 37 and 38 you can read Mecca’s Call to Action.

 

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Photo Credit: The Columbus Park Neighborhood Association.  Elementary School PS 3 on Porter Avenue suffers from epidemic asthma rates, with children so badly impacted that they need regular use of inhalers while at school. 

 

Written by Matthew Ricchiazzi

@MattRicchiazzi on Twitter

View All Articles by Matthew Ricchiazzi
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