New Buffalo City Parks Master Plan
We all love our parks. They are one of the key elements that make this city so wonderful to live in and visit. Unfortunately, over the years Buffalo’s parks have fallen into a state of disrepair. I’m not talking about tragic disruptive cases like the highways that run through our parks (that’s an entirely different issue). I’m talking about parks like LaSalle (now Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park), which have been messy for far too long. Or Schiller Park, once a neighborhood gem on the East Side. Name a park and chances are you’ll find deep-rooted issues that haven’t been addressed. Even Olmsted Parks could be better, despite being the shining stars of Buffalo’s portfolio of parks. There is a lot of work to do.
About 90% of Buffalo residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park. The national average for the country’s hundred largest cities is 55%.
In order to address the current state of the parks, Mayor Byron W. Brown, in conjunction with Trust for Public Land and the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, unveiled a master plan for the city of Buffalo’s parks system. The project is a collaboration between the City of Buffalo, the University of Buffalo Regional Institute and several major design firms.
“This plan not only protects the legacy of Buffalo’s existing parks, but lays the foundation for an equitable and inclusive parks system that our residents can enjoy for generations to come,” said Mayor Brown. “The pandemic has reminded us how essential parks are to our quality of life. Now is the time to build on our nationally recognized park system by improving the year-round experience at our existing parks, while prioritizing investments in parks, trails and recreational spaces in historically underserved areas of our city.
The plan is the first new master plan for the park system for over 30 years.
As we take a look at Buffalo’s new Parks Plan Master Plan, it’s exciting to think about the possibilities before us, especially when we look at parks throughout history. There was a time when our parks were nothing but first class. The city was built on a system of parks unique in the world. We were very proud of these open and equitable spaces…the way they looked, how they functioned, and how we cared for them.
Each urban district is located near a park. These parks were once the epicenters of life, where social gatherings took place – picnics, stickball games, concerts, etc. Everything happened in the parks. And as they became neglected over time, they fell out of favor with the locals, who stopped frequenting them as much.
Now it’s about making parks (all parks) fairer, giving everyone the chance to enjoy them like they used to. By analyzing key data (proximity and access to parks and green spaces, physical inactivity, canopy, etc.), the City has been able to identify short-term and long-term opportunities that will help restore parks, from safety issues to environmental progress to public art initiatives.
The Brown administration will use about $43 million for parks capital improvement projects outlined in the plan from its U.S. federal bailout allocation.
“Buffalo has amazing parks that help residents get outside and enjoy the benefits of nature, and this plan offers data-driven solutions to improve those green spaces to reflect community needs,” Carter said. Strickland, Vice President of the Mid-Atlantic Region and New York State Director for The Trust for Public Land. “By making open spaces more widely accessible and improving park infrastructure to better meet the needs of community, Buffalonians will see improved recreational opportunities, climate resilience, financial and general well-being.
“The pandemic has reminded us of the importance of public spaces in connecting people and neighborhoods, and that’s why the US bailout makes park funding an eligible use for local spending,” the congressman said. Brian Higgins. “The City Parks Master Plan will make improvements and expansions to local parks to meet the needs of underserved communities by providing safe recreation areas, increasing economic opportunity, promoting health and wellness by general and contributing to environmental improvements.”