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Spaulding demolition raises concern

City of Tonawanda residents want answers about the status of the Spaulding Fibre facility demolition and cleanup.

During a public forum Tuesday on the issues, several speakers said they were concerned about the safety of the project, especially after the demolition of one building caused the neighborhood to be filled with dust. Half of the facilities at Spaulding have been demolished.

"With all of our technology, it wouldn't take much to build a barrier [to contain the dust]," said Hackett Drive resident Chris Thompson.

Mayor Ronald Pilozzi said he received only one call about the dust situation, but it was addressed within 30 minutes. He said he was unaware of some other residential issues about Spaulding.

"If you have a concern, please call us up," he said. "We'll do whatever we need to do to protect your home and health."

"Shouldn't that be monitored without us even having to bring it up?" another resident asked.

The Spaulding plant has been vacant since 1992 when the company went bankrupt. After a decade of legal battles, the city was finally able to begin demolition work and remediation in 2006. Tonawanda has received financial aid and guidance from Erie County, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the county Industrial Development Agency, all of which sent representatives to the public forum.

While officials hope a combination of funding from local and state sources will pay for the rest of the demolition, they noted there must be significant testing and cleanup of the ground before the site can be shovel ready for development.

"The goal is to have the site physically cleared, environmentally cleaned up and development [done]," said Ken Swanekamp of the county office of Economic Development. "You don't want to just get one thing done, you want all these things done."

Swanekamp said the project may cost $15 million to $20 million, and he complimented the state and county IDA for finding funding to complete the remediation.

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