TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Amigone has shut down its Sheridan Drive crematorium in Tonawanda following air pollution concerns from neighbors.
After years of protests, like one earlier this month, neighbors say they can enjoy the great outdoors, once again.
We found Werkley Road neighbors Bill Pilkington and Ron Labuda shortly after they got the good news about the crematory next door on Wednesday. For the first time in more than 20 years, the crematory, operated by Amigone Funeral Home, won't be chasing them indoors.
"The smoke would come out, occasionally. The odors were horrible, so how can you entertain people when the black smoke is coming, pouring on you? You have to run in your house, and you would have to close your windows," Labuda said.
Pilkington added, "I can go in the backyard. I love gardening, and work in my garden. I am sure my wife and I are going to eat outside. We are going to eat outside tonight, without worrying that crematorium is going to start up."
Amigone CEO Vincent Amigone told News 4 if he is forced to close the crematory permanently and relocate it, he is talking to an architect to see what it would take.
"To operate like we operate here. So we are trying to get the architect to draw up plans so they can look at them, and maybe approve what we could use," Amigone said.
But he adds he was assured by the Attorney General's environmental staff, this is not a health issue.
Amigone said, "And that is one thing I did ask her is if it was a health issue, and she said no."
Rebecca Newberry of the Clean Air Coalition told News 4 the crematory issue is all about quality of life for the neighbors.
"Crematories should not be located in residential neighborhoods, and the reason being is because they cause problems for people that live there everyday with the smell, the noise," she said.
The agreement between Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Amigone, called an "Assurance of Discontinuance," is good for six months. You can read that document in full here. After that, the crematory might have to be shut down permanently, relocated to another neighborhood or re-opened, which would more than likely lead to a lawsuit.
Information from Attorney General's press release:
The Attorney General's agreement first commits Sheridan Park to pursue the relocation of their crematory operations to a more suitable site, including securing any necessary state or local approvals. If such approvals are not granted, the corporation then must retain an expert to evaluate crematory operations and make recommendations to the State on engineering solutions that will resolve community concerns.
"For years, emissions from the Amigone Funeral Home's crematory have been the source of complaints in the Tonawanda community. This agreement is a victory for the families who deserve a neighborhood that is free from offensive odors, smoke and soot," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "I am pleased that the operators of the Amigone crematory have agreed to halt its crematory operations and focus on finding a solution to the emissions that disrupted the lives of dozens of nearby families. Our office will remain vigilant to protect all New Yorkers' right to clean, fresh air."
Sheridan Park is first required to pursue relocating their crematory operations to a more suitable site, including securing any necessary state or local approvals; and
If no such permission is granted, Sheridan Park is then required to retain a technical expert with experience in operating crematories to make recommendations on engineering solutions to end problematic emissions. The agreement requires that such recommendation be submitted to Attorney General Schneiderman and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for review.
Rebecca Newberry, Program Coordinator, Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, said, "The Clean Air Coalition applauds Eric Schneiderman and his talented team for taking decisive action that will improve air quality in the Town of Tonawanda. While many pointed fingers, the Attorney General has shown leadership by reaching this agreement with the Amigone family. The community will find great relief knowing they can enjoy their homes and property once again."
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