ENGLEWOOD — As Norfolk Southern Corp. prepares to expand its intermodal facility in Englewood, the railroad company on Friday donated $10,000 to Sherwood Park and $25,000 to Chicago Public Schools.
Norfolk Southern officials joined Ald. Willie Cochran (20th), whose ward includes Sherwood Park at 5701 S. Shields Ave., elementary students from Jesse Sherwood and Dulles School of Excellence, as well as Chicago Park District and CPS officials in making a check presentation.
Cochran said the money would be used to fund after-school activities at Sherwood Park, which is located next to a railroad bridge, and robotics projects at local elementary schools.
"I am excited about the possibilities this money could create for our children. I am glad that Norfolk Southern took me up on my offer to invest in our children," Cochran said.
Herbert Smith, a spokesman for Norfolk Southern, said it would donate the same amount for the next three years.
"Chicago is front and center for our company. We are hopeful that this seed money will be able to inspire the children to be bosses one day," Smith said.
Smith added that as a business tenant Norfolk Southern would continue to invest in Englewood.
"Norfolk Southern has made a strategic decision to expand in Chicago when other railroad companies are expanding to the suburbs," he said. "We continue to employ people from Chicago. About one-third of our workforce (30,000 employees) are Chicago residents."
Steve Rogers, an Englewood-native and professor at Harvard Business School, thanked Smith afterwards for the donation, but said "this community needs a donation of seven figures."
Norfolk Southern is expanding its rail yard at 361 W. 47th St. and it requires purchasing Englewood properties, such as homes, to complete the project. As many as 105 city-owned Englewood lots would also be sold to Norfolk Southern for $1.1 million. The lots are in the area bounded by Garfield Boulevard, 61st Street, Wallace Street and Stewart Avenue.
But despite some Englewood homeowners unwilling to sell their properties, Smith said the company has been able to put "people in a better position than what they were in," and have been able to successfully close on 93 percent of the properties in the project area.
"We voluntarily chose to follow Uniform Act even though we did not have to. We have addressed individual needs of each homeowner relocated during this process and we use eminent domain sparingly," Smith said. "But we haven't come to that point and time yet."