Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo administers grants
14 Community-Selected Environmental and Improvement Projects
Nearly 3,000 ballots cast by eligible residents, Guiding Grant Awards
NEW YORK The New York Attorney General Letitia Jam and Governor Kathy Hochul today awarded $909 384 to 14 environmental benefit projects for the Tonawanda Community. This was part of a prior settlement between the Office of the Attorney General and the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The settlement involved environmental violations at the Tonawanda COke facility. Tonawanda Coke Corporation (TCC), which released hazardous waste into the atmosphere and ground for years, has been a menace to the health of New Yorkers, and in violation of federal and state laws. The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo administers grants today that range from $5,000 to $250,000 and will be used directly for projects. community-improvement and environmental projects selected based on community preference determined by a community-wide balloting process.
The Tonawanda community has suffered for far too long from greedy corporations who put profits above the wellbeing of the community or the environment. James, Attorney General. These grants will be used to restore and revive Tonawandas’ environment for future generations. My office will hold corporations responsible for violating these terms. They must protect our environment, as well as the safety and health of our communities. I am grateful for the DEC’s cooperation on this important program.
We are making Western New York stronger through remediation at the former Tonawanda COke facility. This will help to protect its most valuable resources. Governor Hochul. The Tonawanda Community has been united throughout this process and now has the chance to reimagine itself and restore itself through these community-driven improvement and environmental projects. While there is still much work to do after years of pollution and smog, this is a significant step in building a safer, healthier community.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation worked three years ago with our federal, state, and local partners to permanently close Tonawanda Coke. This was done to protect the environment and this community. DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. New York State enforcement actions to hold this once-notorious polluter responsible have driven the Tonawanda Community Environmental Benefit Program to support more than a dozen unique environmental project selections by local residents. These projects will benefit the entire Tonawanda Community.
The settlement between the OAG, DEC and TCC required the TCC to pay a civil penalty as well as allocate $1 million to a grant program called the Tonawanda Community Environmental Benefit Program. This grant program was intended to protect Tonawandas’ environment and public health. The settlement stipulates that New York has the fiduciary obligation to make final grants available to project applicants.
The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo administers this grant program. They also established a community advisory committee to help in the design and implementation, including helping to determine community preference. The Community Foundation, DEC, and OAG collaborated with a 12-member advisory committee made up of community members to assist in the development and implementation of the programs. The grant process involved soliciting proposals, a proposal evaluation by an independent panel, and wider community engagement. Nearly 3,000 Tonawanda citizens voted to select their preferred grant recipients via a community-wide voting process.
The final projects chosen by the state mirror the results from the balloting process.These can be found at the Community Foundations website. The Community Foundation’s recommendations are also reflected in the grant awards.
Grants are divided into two groups: small-to-medium-scale projects that range between $5,000 and $25,000, and large-scale projects that range between $25,001 and $250,000.
Winners of small-to medium-scale projects are:
- Citizen Coalition for Wildlife and Environment – Plant for Nature! Ecological Gardening for Community Health & Native Plant Giveaway $11,900
- Citizen Science Community Resources: Community Victory Garden $24,908
- Erie County Department of Environment and Planning: Subsidized Community Barrel/Compost bin Sale $25,000
- Kenmore Village Improvement Society: Save the Bees $10,000 and Treasure Our Trees!
- Town of Tonawanda Library: Rain Garden at Kenilworth Library $9,000
- Kenmore-Town in Tonawanda Union free School District: Tree Planting and Beautification Edison Primary School $6,359
- City of Tonawanda Public Library, City of Tonawanda Public Library. City of Tonawanda Public Library. Community Reading Garden $20,000
- Erie County Department of Environment and Planning – Senior Focused Ewaste Collection $25,000
- Thomas Edison PTA: Thomas Edison Parent-Teacher Association Community Garden $25,000
- Project Pride of North Tonawanda, Manhattan Street Rain Garden Improvements: $12,440
These are the large-scale project winners:
- Town of Tonawanda – Kenney Field Park Multiuse Trail, Inclusive Playground, and Mural Wall $250,000
- Western New York Land Conservancy – Creating New Nature Preserves and Improving Public Access, Restoring Wildlife Habitat, and Offering Environmental education $160,777
- The Clean Air Coalition – Organizing Our Environmental Justice Values in Action $99,000
- Niagara River Greenway Commission – Building Stewardship & Strengthening Pride in the Greater Tonawanda Community $230,000
We are grateful for the enthusiasm and engagement shown by the Tonawanda Community EBPs Advisory Panel throughout this entire process. Cara Matteliano Senior Director of Policy and Strategic Partnerships, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. We are also grateful for Governor Hochul and Attorney General James’s partnership with this group. They gave them the tools and the freedom to make decisions that would ensure their community was fully engaged in the program. This community-led project is a shining example for how to connect people, ideas and resources to improve Western New York’s lives.
I am extremely proud that this panel considered all aspects of our time together. Jill OMalley, Tonawanda Community EBP Community Advisory Board member and village of Kenmore resident. Participants made substantial investments of energy and time in the creation guidelines for this funding program. The process was well-rounded and thoughtful to encourage creative project proposals and maximize community involvement. I am grateful to the state for its partnership with the Tonawanda Community.
I had a great time participating in the Tonawanda Community EBP Advisory Panel. It was a team effort with the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo to spread the word about this great program to the community. Thomas Piwtorak, Tonawanda resident & Tonawanda Community EBP Panel Advisory Panel member. Working virtually with so many environmentally-minded, local volunteers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic was challenging, but the results of our efforts and the positive impact it will have on our community are very rewarding. I am grateful for the support of all involved, especially the DEC/OAG. I look forward to the positive effects these grants will have on Tonawanda for many years to come.
Tonawanda Coke violated the law for decades and polluted our soil and air, putting at risk the health of residents in Western New York. U.S. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. I am proud that I worked side-by-side for years with the community to hold them accountable. I am even more proud to see this money going back to Tonawandas growth and recovery. These worthyprojects to keep our environmentclean and improve lives of Western New Yorkers willget the investmenttheydeserve.
I am so happy to announce that this significant settlement funding will be used to revitalize the Tonawanda Community, U.S.Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. I am confident that these new projects will provide significant benefits for the surrounding communities, as we continue to fight the environmental ramifications at the TonawandaCoke site. There is no pressing issue more important than the health and well-being of our environment. This is why I will continue to push for accountability from polluters.
Tonawanda Coke, a serial polluter, was responsible for the health problems in nearby neighborhoods and residents. U.S. Representative Brian Higgins.The Tonawanda Company’s destructive past is still a part of this community, thanks to the residents who fought for it. This marks a new chapter for Riverside, Grand Island, Tonawandas and Riverside. It opens up new opportunities for residents and creates green spaces.
The Tonawanda Coke Plant was responsible for illegally polluting the surrounding communities for many years. Although ongoing rehabilitation of the site is important it does not address the extent of the damage that has already been done. State Senator Sean Ryan. I am grateful to Governor Hochul and Attorney-General James for distributing these funds. They are rightfully being used in the region affected due to the plants pollution. These grants will allow Tonawanda residents to take an active role in addressing environmental problems in their own communities. The funds will support a wide variety of creative projects. Each will do its part in strengthening the Tonawanda environment. It was gratifying to see so many submissions and so many residents participating in the voting process. I look forward seeing these projects in action.
Tonawanda Coke’s pollution has been a problem for western New Yorkers for years.State Senator Tim Kennedy “With these grants New York state is helping provide a cleaner, more healthy environment for the current and future generations. Thank you to Governor Hochul and Attorney General James as well as the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo for their leadership to bring this important project to life.
The Tonawanda Community Environmental Benefit Program is a triumphant turning point in a tragic story about Tonawanda Coke’s pollution and the terrible consequences it caused to citizens. State Assemblymember Bill Conrad. We are witnessing the power of the people at work, from the destruction of the plant’s stacks in May to the awarding these grants. This funding and the way it is distributed belong to everyday heroes in this story: the scientists, activists, local leaders, families, who for years demanded corporate accountability as well as a healthier environment. These worthy projects will celebrate their hard-fought victory, and make their impact permanent. I salute the DEC and Attorney General James, as well as the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and the dedicated community advisors that made the Tonawanda Community EBP such success.
I applaud Governor Hochul, Attorney General James, for facilitating nearly $1,000,000 in settlement funds to projects which will greatly improve the safety and health of western New Yorkers. State Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera.Tonawanda Coke committed numerous environmental violations, which further strengthens the argument that the largest corporate contributors of climate change should bear the brunt of the cost. The settlement that the governor and attorney-general have reached will allow for increased efforts to clean up our air and waterways locally and will create a greener state.
The Tonawanda Coke Community Benefici Program was designed to help the local community where Tonawanda Coke was found select projects that will benefit the environment. Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz.Erie County is excited to work on these projects, while also working with our state and town government partners to ensure that the site is cleaned up.
The town and non-profits in town will be funded to improve the physical and mental health of our community over the coming decades. Their impact is unmeasurable, I believe. Joseph Emminger, Supervisor Town of Tonawanda. I would also like to express my appreciation to the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo as well as the DEC for their efforts to protect the best interests the residents of the town.
The ex-Tonawanda Coke site will be remediated by the New York state Superfund Cleanup and Brownfield Cleanup programs. There is strict DEC oversight to ensure that the cleanup does not harm the environment. Visit the DEC website.
The Tonawanda area is defined geographically as the city of Tonawanda (city of Tonawanda), North Tonawanda (village of Kenmore), and southern portion of Grand Island’s Buffalos Riverside neighborhood.
You can find more information about Tonawanda CommunityEBP such as the process, applicants proposals and the results of community preferencing at the Tonawanda Community Environmental Benefits Program site.
This matter was handled under the supervision Bureau Chief LemuelM. Srolovic by Policy Advisor Peter C. Washburn, Environmental Protection Bureau. Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faaux leads the Division for Social Justice. The Environmental Protection Bureau is part of the Division for Social Justice. Jennifer Levy, First Deputy Attorney General, oversees the Division for Social Justice.