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By Deanna Fanton

Groundbreaking Ceremony at Union Square Park

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Great news from the City of Hornell!

(From left): Melissa Logan (City Clerk), Michele Smith (City Chamberlain), Jim Bassage (Alderman), John Carbone (Alderman), John Buckley (Mayor), Mike Morey (Alderman), Lita Brown (Alderman), Robert Colucci (Alderman), Jessica Cleveland (Deputy Mayor).

Today was an exceptional day in the Maple City as the official groundbreaking took place at Union Square Park. This park is the first of several municipal projects from the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) that was awarded in 2019. The groundbreaking event was well-attended by City officials, Common Council Members, representatives from LaBella Associates and C.P. Ward, state representatives, and members of the public.

From left): John Buckley (City of Hornell, Mayor), Steven Phillips  (C.P. Ward, Executive Vice President), Andrew Smilinich (LaBella Associates, Project Manager), Heather Reynolds (City of Hornell, City Planner), Julie Sweet (Department of State), Amanda Marsh (New York State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, Southern Tier Regional Grants Administrator), John Carbone (Alderman, Chairman of Planning & Development Committee), and Jim Bassage (Alderman, Chairman of Youth & Recreation Committee).

Mayor John Buckley expressed his excitement about the project, stating, “There has been a lot of planning that has gone into this project and we are thrilled to have shovels in the ground. This is exciting, not only because it is the first of several DRI projects, and people can finally start to see and enjoy the benefits of that incredible award, but also because of the significance of the park itself. Losing Union Park downtown in the 1970s to urban renewal created a lot of heartache for City residents. Having a pedestrian park back in downtown Hornell will fill the void that was created decades ago, and will be something our community can be proud of for generations to come. Looking forward, this project will bring great benefits to our City’s downtown and our residents”.

“Public gathering spaces, like Union Square, hold a special place in the heart and soul of a community and serve as both an anchor and a catalyst for further revitalization,” said Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez. “The return of Union Square to Hornell’s downtown marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the history of this city, and I look forward to seeing the completion of this project and how it will benefit Hornell residents for generations to come.”        

“We are excited about the Union Square – Four Season Park project,” said Amanda Marsh, Regional Grants Administrator for New York State Parks in the Southern Tier.  “These improvements will create green space in the City of Hornell and provide opportunities to bring the community together.  This vision aligns with our agency’s mission and we are happy to support the completion of this project for the enjoyment of the public.”

The Common Council approved the bid from C.P. Ward for $1,244,742 for the project at their March 2023 meeting. In addition to DRI, funding for this project comes in part through an Environment Protection Fund grant (EPF # 221628) administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. With plenty of greenspace and lighted walkways for pedestrian use, the park will also feature a water fountain, several benches, and an amphitheater for outdoor music and entertainment events. Finally, the park will feature a memorial to fallen Hornell police officer, Sgt. Daniel Swift, who passed away in the line of duty in 1973.

City Planner Heather Reynolds noted her enthusiasm for today’s groundbreaking, “With the help of DRI, New York State Department of State, and New York State Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, we are finally able to provide a beautiful space where our community can gather. This is a very special day for the City of Hornell.”

The park is expected to be completed and available for enjoyment this fall, providing a beautiful space for residents and visitors alike for years to come.

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