Black Rock Canal Park Ribbon Cutting
BUFFALO - A grass-roots effort to reclaim a portion of under-utilized public space on the Niagara River came to fruition Saturday. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and other area officials were on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking completion of Phase 1 of the master plan for Black Rock Canal Park.
Erie County's newest park is located at the site of the Ontario Street boat launch in Riverside.
"It is very rewarding to know that a group of determined people can make a tangible difference to a neighborhood that means a great deal to us," said Margaret Szczepaniec of the Black Rock Canal Park Steering Committee in a statement released by the County Executive's office. "This is just the beginning of a wonderful destination that will be enjoyed now and in future generations. I am certain that when this is complete, all the volunteers involved will look around with pride and say 'we helped build a park -- that was the difference we made'."
The area around the boat launch has long been plagued by vandalism, neglect and an unsafe environment after dark. The steering committee worked with Erie County officials to raise money for a feasibility study and master plan for the park improvements. The study and master plan, which detailed new, environmentally-friendly features, were completed in 2010.
The improvements unveiled Saturday include: increased green space; a less obtrusive turnaround for vehicles; a new fenced-in dog park; a better connection to the Riverwalk path which connects downtown to Tonawanda; new lighting and landscaping; and improved water run-off and capture infrastructure.
The park has even added solar-powered, self-compacting trash cans to cut down on litter. Avian sculptures along the park's main path pay tribute to the migratory birds that frequent the site.
Funding for the feasibility study, master plan, and Phase I of construction amounted to approximately $1,000,000, and was provided by the NYS Department of State Environmental Protection Fund, NYS Department of Transportation, NYS Canal Corporation, the Niagara River Greenway Commission, Erie County and the City of Buffalo.
Also on hand for today's ribbon-cutting were Erie County Commissioner of the Department of Environment and Planning Maria Whyte, Commissioner of the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Troy Schinzel, Erie County Legislator Lynn Marinelli, City of Buffalo North District Common Council Member Joseph Golombek, Jr., members of the Niagara River Greenway Commission and the Black Rock Canal Park Steering Committee, and local residents.