Weekly Reader – November 9th, 2014
War and Peace BridgeBuilding Bridges
This election was special, because in addition to the message the people sent to candidates with their votes, one candidate sent a special message to voters. And in an historic turn, that candidate was elected, becoming the first ‘Openly Pro-Peace Bridge Neighborhood’ member of the New York Senate.
Congratulations, Marc Penepinto, and good luck.
You’ll need it.
A Voice in Albany
This year’s election may be the clearest evidence yet that the hard work by residents of Prospect Hill has perceptibly changed the conversation relative to Peace Bridge Politics. Marc Penepinto became the first Senator ever to campaign on a platform advocating the only real solution to pollution here:
MOVE THE TRUCKS!
Congratulations, Senator-elect Penepinto. We recognize the courage it takes to embrace a position ignored by the overwhelming majority of your colleagues. We hope you persevere in the face of the inevitable pressure to recant.
Until then, we remain: your constituents, the residents of Prospect Hill, waiting, watching.
The Last Word
As this Artvoice letter reminds us, our problem is one of perception; a perception developed over generations: our neighborhood is not worth saving.
It’s going to take a lot for things to change:
Western New York’s most prominent daily newspaper and New York’s senior senator have raised their voices on behalf of citizens subjected to unhealthy conditions.
A Buffalo News editorial concluded that a “crematory simply isn’t appropriate in a densely populated neighborhood,” such as the one surrounding the Amigone funeral home in the Town of Tonawanda. Odors, smoke and soot that emanated from the building have depressed property values and affected the quality of life.
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer visited Buffalo’s Seneca-Babcock neighborhood a few weeks to express concerns over the negative impacts dust from a concrete crushing operations was having on nearby residents. According to the senator: “It’s quality of life we’re talking about. But it’s more. Residents of this neighborhood have been battling with health issues. People suffer from migraines, bloody noses and, in some of the worst cases, people have reported trouble from breathing and their kids with asthma.”
But the Buffalo News and Sen. Schumer have not used their substantial influence to protect the health and quality of life of the residents living near the Peace Bridge. They’ve chosen silence, although the lower West Side community is even more densely populated than the neighborhood surrounding Amigone’s crematory. And the connection between diesel exhaust and severe health problems, especially childhood asthma, is irrefutable.
No one can rationally suggest that a busy international border crossing—that sees 1.24 million trucks annually—is appropriate in a residential neighborhood. But money talks, and, apparently, not all lungs and neighborhoods are created equal.