Press-Republican

October 7, 2012

Council grants easement to Bombardier despite complaints

Part of expansion plan; some residents unhappy

By JOE LoTEMPLIO
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — City of Plattsburgh councilors have granted an easement to Bombardier Corp., paving the way for a major expansion.

But approval has prompted some residents who live near the plant to threaten to sue.

“There will be a lawsuit over this if I have to because I am not living like this,” Laverne Hicks told councilors at the recent meeting.

Hicks and her husband, Harold “Rebel” Hicks, a former city councilor, live at 9 Alex Way, right across the street from the Bombardier plant. The planned 87,600-square-foot expansion will further cause traffic, light and noise problems for them, they said.

Ernest Gillespie, a neighbor of the Hickses, also complained that the expansion would cause problems.

“Nobody seems to care,” Gillespie said.

“Well, if you live there you care.”

The easement, on city property off Main Mill Street, gives Bombardier a new entrance to the plant. It will increase traffic near the Hickses’ home.

‘CROCK OF BULL’

Mr. Hicks said that for the past 10 years, he has had to put pillows in the windows to lessen the noise and light from the plant, but it does not help.

“This is a crock of bull when a man can’t live in peace and quiet in his own home,” he said.

“I will fight you in the courts with my last penny and until my last kick.”

Mrs. Hicks said Bombardier gets anything it wants no matter what impact it has on neighbors.

“Why is the city bending over backwards for someone who gives nothing to the city?” she said.

Robert Kennedy, who lives at 10 Alex Way, said he was concerned that the easement would prevent emergency-services vehicles from traveling through his neighborhood.

Corporation Counsel John Clute said he did not believe the easement would affect Kennedy’s property.

‘MAJOR EMPLOYER’

Clute also said the state has given Bombardier $2.5 million for the expansion as part of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council funding last year, and they recommend helping companies that promise to create jobs.

As of last month, 410 people worked at Bombardier, and that level was expected to remain steady and even increase as the company fills orders for trains for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City and the Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority in San Francisco over the next several years.

“We’re doing this

(granting the easement) because they are a major employer and will be for a long time, and quite frankly, we will do everything we can to help them,” Clute said.

Councilor James Calnon (I-Ward 4) said most of the comments from the Hickses and Gillespie were not relevant to the easement question.

“If we don’t approve the easement it will kill the project,” he said.

Councilor Mark Tiffer (D-Ward 2) said he disagreed with Mrs. Hicks’s assertion that Bombardier does nothing for the city.

“Bombardier employs hundreds and has invested millions and will do more,” he said.

“They’ve done plenty, and to help them further their development in the city is a great plan, and that is how you grow your economy.”

‘CITY SHINES’

Councilor George Rabideau (R-Ward 3) said Bombardier trains made in Plattsburgh are in service all over the country.

“They make our city shine in the eyes of the United States, and they have put us on the map,” he said.

“They deserve credit for the work they do.”

Councilors Chris Case (D-Ward 5) and Chris Jackson (D-Ward 6) joined Tiffer, Rabideau and Calnon in voting for the easement. Timothy Carpenter (D-Ward 1) was absent.

Mayor Donald Kasprzak told Kennedy that he would look into whether emergency-service vehicles would be obstructed from traveling through the neighborhood.

Email Joe LoTemplio:

jlotemplio@pressrepublican.com