Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Work on Wilson Park to continue through winter

By Joseph Cali

            In the rust belt city of Buffalo, New York, terms like “State of the Art” and “World Class” are not necessarily what you would hear paired with many public amenities in the area.

            Terms like these have been constantly referenced when speaking of the new and improved LaSalle Park, now named the Ralph Wilson Jr. Centennial Park.

            Changes are now visible in the park as construction has been underway for the past

few months. The core facilities of the park are closed, but the skate park, temporary dog park on

4th Street, and football field remain open for residents to use.

            “We are looking at 2025 for the park to be open. Construction started in July of 2023 and they are working at a really fast clip to make sure that the park is completed by the end of 2025,”

Katie Campos, executive director of the Ralph Wilson Park Conservancy, said.

            A project of this magnitude comes at a cost of $110 million. That is where the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation came in, Fillmore District Councilmember Mitch Nowakowski, whose district includes the park, said.

            “While, yes, it is a heavy price tag, being partnered with the Ralph Wilson Park Conservancy helps us foot the hefty bill for the state-of-the-art park,” Nowakowski said.

            The foundation is not the only big donor helping to foot the bill. Major League Baseball has contributed and additional $1 million to help enhance the quality of the baseball fields and other sports fields throughout the park.

            Campos said the combination of funding will create a park with world-class amenities, the likes of which Buffalo has not yet experienced."

            A project like this requires a very cohesive construction plan to obtain all of these goals and provide a world class experience in such a short amount of time. Kelly Maloney, senior project manager at Gilbane Building Co., contractor on the project, said the project is in the first of three phases, which consists of work on the shoreline, underground utilities, electric and the access bridge from the West Side to the park.

            The recent mild weather has allowed Gilbane to conduct in-water work at the shoreline, which is progressing well, she said.

            "Crews are also working on the stormwater drainage system, which can be continued throughout the winter months. Crews are now installing drainage structures, such as manholes and pipes. We are planning to conduct underground utility work in the winter months along with the bridge abutment work,” Maloney said.

            The newly redesigned park is going to have resounding effects on the City of Buffalo and, specifically, the West Side.

            “We are excited to bring that world-class experience so when people come it is safe, welcoming and a lot of fun," Campos said. "Also, for people to feel invited to play and hang out with these world-class amenities that are just going to create a higher standard going forward.”