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Common Council Report

A key issue of the Peace Bridge controversy that has been overshadowed by the recent dispute between New York State and the PBA made its way into Tuesday’s Common Council meeting. North District Councilman Joseph Golombek, Jr. made an impassioned push to remove commercial truck traffic from the Peace Bridge and put a stop to the air-pollution assault on the surrounding neighborhood. Golombek told the Council that commercial truck traffic has contributed to neighborhood asthma and cancer rates that are a whopping four times higher than the national average.

“I think that’s the key issue here,” Golombek said at the meeting. “It’s not about the PBA, it’s not about the NFTA, it’s not about people yelling and screaming back and forth at one another about the plaza and everything. It’s about the health issues there.”

Golombek’s solution is to send commercial truck traffic to the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, which he said is located in a much less populated area and is better suited for high-volume truck traffic.

After Golombek finished speaking, Niagara District Councilman David Rivera jumped in with an equally fervent speech urging the council to take action to fix the environmental crisis.

“To do nothing is not part of the solution,” Rivera said, shaking his head and spreading his arms out wide. “People are dying of cancer. So what do we do? We have to come up with a solution. We can’t just hope that something happens.”

Rivera advised that his fellow councilmembers become informed before making any decisions, and recommended that they go to the scoping meeting at D’Youville College later that afternoon.

“All I ask is that you pay close attention,” Rivera said. “Go to these public meetings, inform yourself.” —leif reigstad

• Amidst the ongoing preparation and debate over UB’s expansion in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, the tenants of 921 Main Street’s Roosevelt Apartments have asked the Common Council for a moratorium on any construction of UB medical buildings near the apartment complex. In their address to councilmembers, the residents claim “they generally do not oppose the medical school being built in the general vicinity,” but issues such as parking, privacy, an obstructed skyline, greenspace, and, puzzlingly, “impact of the aerodynamics of the wind” raise concerns about construction of a large, new building right next door. Many residents who signed a petition bringing the issue to Common Council oppose current plans for a new medical building which would eliminate 32 of 42 parking spots in a lot connected to the apartments, and move parking to an area one block over, possibly causing difficulties for disabled and elderly tenants.

In addition to these conventional objections, the residents’ primary concern is more alarming: They claim that the Roosevelt Housing Associates have prevented SUNY-hosted public hearings from taking place as of yet, which are required under the State Environment Quality Review Act, or SEQRA. The tenants appear open to compromise, but desire the opportunity to negotiate soon, as builders plan to begin construction in September of this year.

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