(WIVB) – There were cheers from the Clean Air Coalition of WNY when the Tonawanda Coke smokestacks came down Saturday morning, but organizers say there’s still much work to be done.
A group of coalition members gathered early Saturday morning at Fisherman’s Park in Grand Island to watch the implosion.
“We have years of remediation ahead of us,” said Emily Terrana, Environmental Justice Organizer for Clean Air Coalition said. “They’re just taking down the stacks so they can do the real work – getting into the soil, getting into the groundwater, and really bringing that site that was criminally managed for years.”
The Clean Air Coalition is a member of the Tonawanda Community Working Group, which has been established to give the community a seat at the table with the Tonawanda Coke site developer to support the site’s cleanup and revitalization.
“It’s a mess, and it’s going to take a very long time to do the right work,” Terrana said. “We all deserve a River Road corridor, a Tonawanda, an Erie County, a Western New York that all of us can participate in and it’s going to take diligence and tenacity from community members.”
Clean Air Coalition member Jim Jones, who is also the retired Town of Tonawanda engineer, called the stacks coming down “a milestone” for the community.
“They’ve been here for over 100 years,” Jones said. “It’s a chapter of a legacy that is closed. I’m very optimistic of…