TONAWANDA, N.Y. — The supervisor for the Town of Tonawanda, Joe Emminger, is calling out a local environmental group for its handling of a public hearing Wednesday night on the former Tonawanda Coke site.
That public hearing was hosted by the Clean Air Coalition and was meant to educate the public about the direction of the property.
Emminger takes issue with this caricature the Clean Air Coalition created of the commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Basil Seggos, mocking him as a puppet of Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The DEC is the agency that will decide whether a local developer will be chosen to help clean up the former Tonawanda Coke site and build a computer data management center.
Emminger, who did not attend the meeting, on Thursday went to Facebook, calling this depiction of the DEC commissioner a "stunt."
"This is a very important decision, designation that is going to be coming out on the former Tonawanda Coke site," Emminger said. "I thought the so-called stunt that the community group did last night, I thought it minimized the importance of what is before the community, and that quite frankly is what alarms me."
2 On Your Side called the Clean Air Coalition to find out what they were trying to accomplish with the caricature, the executive director says Friday they plan to respond to Emminger's criticism.
Apart from this matter, there are other issues at play with at the former Tonawanda Coke site, whether the owner of the property should be approved by the state to clean it up for redevelopment.
The Clean Air Coalition says no, because then the owner, Riverview Innovation and Technology Campus, would be eligible for taxpayer-funded state tax credits.
Instead, the group wants the former owner, Honeywell, to pay for cleanup under the federal Superfund program. Emminger says that's a bad idea because there are reports the program has been backlogged.
"We need to get it cleaned up and redeveloped as quickly as possible, and the state Brownfield Cleanup Program in my opinion certainly is the best way to get that accomplished," Emminger said.
Emminger is calling on people to email the DEC and support the proposed plan to clean it up.
The Clean Air Coalition is asking people to do the opposite.
Saturday is the deadline for comments to be filed.