On March 25-28, 2014, environmental justice leaders and policy-makers from across the United States convened in Washington, DC, for the 2014 National Environmental Justice Conference (NEJC). The annual conference provides an interactive forum for the free exchange of ideas and approaches to solving environmental injustices facing the nation’s the most vulnerable communities.

Four key figures representing all sides of the ongoing and hotly contested Peace Bridge environmental justice crisis delivered an unprecedented panel presentation at NEJC the morning of March 27, 2014. The joint presentation, titled, “Finding Common Ground: The Power & Value of Capacity Building,” featured the following panelists:

  • Kathy Mecca, President of the Columbus Park Neighborhood Association
  • Ron Rienas, General Manager of the Peace Bridge
  • Joseph Golombek, Jr., Councilman for the City of Buffalo
  • Terry Robinson, Trustee for Preservation Buffalo Niagara

The presenters demonstrated how in the last year, West Side community organizers applied principles of capacity building to bring stakeholders from all sides of the Peace Bridge debate to the same table as a means to transcend political obstacles, end nearly two decades of hostile dialogue, and convene key stakeholders under a common objective to change the conversation from one fueled by emotion to one grounded in logic.  While major disagreements still exist—and were exposed during the presentation—each panelist shared his or her unique perspective on the past, present, and future of the Peace Bridge and the people of Buffalo’s West Side community.

The group’s PowerPoint presentation is available as an attachment below, in addition to other many relevant resources.

NEJC Presentation Resources

Environmental and Health Studies


Media Coverage: Politics

Media Coverage: Environment

Media Coverage: Historic Preservation











Contact Us: Kathy Mecca, President, Niagara Gateway Columbus Park Association


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