HORNELL – Bill Norton’s nephew, an Air Force first sergeant, was in town this weekend to visit the Hornell branch of the family.
Norton took him on a tour of town to keep abreast of the latest happenings after years of absence, and his nephew was struck by all the changes around Hornell – a new hospital, new housing developments, redeveloped buildings and new construction projects.
The tour finally took a turn through Shawmut Drive, where the stage is set for another great addition to Maple Town.
Earlier in the week, Hornell’s planning council and the town’s planning and development committee both unanimously approved the site plans for Alstom’s new car shell manufacturing building to be located in the Shawmut Industrial Park.
“He said, ‘This place is booming. I can’t believe the changes around here, ”recalls Norton. “‘This will put Hornell on the map.'”
Norton is a member of the Hornell Planning Board which approved Alstom’s site plan following a presentation attended by the company as well as the design and engineering offices involved in the project.
Construction of a new 135,000 square foot railcar manufacturing plant is planned at 3 Shawmut Park Dr., just north of the current Alstom 2 plant. Alstom expands presence in Hornell after company wins a contract with Metra to supply rail cars for the Chicago metro area. . Alstom officially received the initial order of $ 769 million for the first 200 cars in March with options for another 300. In total, the contract could total up to $ 1.8 billion.
Norton said the only concern raised by the Planning Council was the transport of the large shells through city streets as they are moved from one Hornell factory to another during the manufacturing process. The board of directors has been assured that transport will take place during off-peak hours. Planning is also underway to cut down some trees along the road and deal with utilities or public infrastructure that may need to be relocated to allow transportation.
“I felt a lot better after hearing their plan,” Norton said. “I don’t see Alstom doing anything to disturb people.”
The Town Planning Council and the Town Planning and Development Committee both got their first glimpse of a rendering of the building. The new facility will include 105,000 square feet of manufacturing space, 18,000 square feet of warehouse space and 12,000 square feet of office space.
Metra’s effort is expected to create approximately 250 new skilled manufacturing jobs at the Hornell plant and help preserve another 400 positions at Hornell.
“This is a very important step in helping to make this project a reality and bring 250 more jobs to Hornell,” said Mayor John Buckley of the approvals. “It is an exciting time for Alstom and the Hornell community.
When construction of the building is completed, the road will be redone and a new sidewalk will be installed allowing better pedestrian access to Shawmut Park.
“Looking at the plan, the aesthetics of the building are almost the same as the other buildings in the main factory,” Norton said. “It will make the area neat. I think it will make this whole area look better and hopefully get people back to work.
“A lot of people come down to Shawmut Park and take the trail there. It will improve this neighborhood and be really good for the city.