Congressman Brian Higgins, City of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, Niagara Falls City School District Superintendent Cynthia Bianco and other community partners gathered Thursday to officially celebrate the opening of a new playground at Gill Creek Park.
The recently completed project is a joint effort funded by a 2013 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant managed by Niagara Falls Community Development, and a Niagara River Greenway Plan grant secured through the Niagara Falls City School District. The $91,000 park project was split evenly between federal and Greenway funds.
"Parks and public spaces serve as a place to bring people together and enhance the overall quality of life in a community," Higgins said. "I commend the City of Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls School District and Niagara Falls business leaders for their partnership on this project as we work together to enhance our neighborhoods for our children, families and all who live in and love Niagara Falls."
"The Gill Creek Playground would not have been possible without federal funds from the Community Development Block Grant program," said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster. "It is another example of the importance of United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's investment in our community."
Niagara Falls City Council Chairman Charles Walker said, "I am happy to support this project. By upgrading our playgrounds, we provide a safer, more enjoyable place for our children and families. Taking care of our public spaces helps to build the strong community bonds that our city needs to succeed."
The playground, just a few blocks away from Niagara Street Elementary School, is easily accessible to students attending the school.
"The district is pleased to support a project that benefits students outside the school hours," Superintendent Cynthia Bianco said. "When we built the new Niagara Street School, we did it partly to anchor that neighborhood. This project will continue the improvement of the Niagara Street area."
Gill Creek Park Playground also is in walking distance of a dense residential area and local small business district. Ron Anderluh of the Niagara Street Business Association was a staunch advocate for this project.
"Actions speak louder than words," said Niagara Falls City Council member Robert Anderson. "I applaud the community members like Mr. Anderluh, whose love for this neighborhood makes this project worthwhile."
Niagara Falls City Council member Kristen Grandinetti said, "I think it's wonderful any time the city, the school district, and our community partners can work together for the most important people in our community: the children. Thank you to Ron Anderluh, whose leadership on this project brought us to this point."
The Niagara Falls City Council approved the contract with R.E. Woodson Inc. in the fall of 2013 to complete the playground work.
Niagara Falls City Council member Andrew Touma added, "As I've said before, it's our duty as council members to improve the quality of life for people in our city. Upgrades to our parks are part of that process. These projects improve people's outlook on our city's future, create more options for family-friendly recreation, and provide an economic benefit through an increase in local property values. I'm proud to be a part of this collaboration between our community development department, our school district, and our neighborhood block clubs."
The Niagara River Greenway funds were made available through commitments made by the New York Power Authority under the 2007 relicensing of its Niagara Power Project.
"Playgrounds, where children have fun and families come together, can be the heart of a neighborhood. The Power Authority is pleased its Greenway funds were invested in the worthy cause of a new playground at Gill Creek Park," said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO.