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Higgins $1.056 million in federal funding for Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park

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Mon, Jun 29th 2020 01:35 pm

NOAA allocation will support design & engineering work for shoreline resiliency and aquatic habitat components of project

Congressman Brian Higgins announced the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), through a partnership with the Great Lakes Commission and Buffalo Urban Development Corp., in collaboration with the City of Buffalo, NYSDEC, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper and the Wilson Foundation, has authorized a request to provide $1,056,914 in federal funding toward the project transforming Buffalo’s Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park. 

“There is a renewed appreciation for the peace and energy parks bring to our families and communities,” he said. “This investment continues to build on the incredible park offerings in Western New York and momentum creating destinations along the water’s edge.”

Higgins reached out to the Great Lakes Commission and NOAA in support of the project. 

The NOAA allocation will support design and engineering work for the shoreline resiliency and aquatic habitat restoration at the park. His team said these improvements are critical to improving access to and the health of Buffalo’s waterfront.

Securing the partnership with NOAA and the Great Lakes Commission was a top priority for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, who have worked together on the decades-long Buffalo River “area of concern” restoration efforts. Because the Niagara River is also designated a Great Lakes “area of concern,” the ecosystem restoration planned for the park’s waterfront will help make a significant improvement to the habitat and water quality in the surrounding waters.

“The local project team is thrilled to have NOAA and the Great Lakes Commission working in Buffalo again to support our efforts to restore critical Great Lakes ecological resources,” said Jill Jedlicka, executive director of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper. “This support will contribute to the collaborative efforts we have underway to rebuild a resilient shoreline, restore lost coastal wetlands in the Niagara River, and create an incredible new connection for our community to its waterfront.”

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, Buffalo Urban Development Corp., the City of Buffalo, and Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper are among those leading the effort to reimagine the park with substantial improvements for public access, water quality and ecosystem health. Other features will include updated sports fields, a destination playground, a great lawn for recreation and events, a dog park, green infrastructure, improved waterfront access and neighborhood connectivity.

This $1.056 million in federal funding is in addition to the $6.11 million in federal funding supporting work currently underway under the leadership of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Buffalo District to construct and repair 1,300 feet of seawall at LaSalle Park. The NOAA funding supplements investments from numerous local, state, federal and private foundation commitments to the rehabilitation of Buffalo’s historic waterfront park. 

Included in the federal relicensing agreement, which Higgins fought for on behalf of Western New York, is a $2 million annual allocation, beginning in 2007 and continuing for 50 years, from the New York Power Authority to support Buffalo & Erie County Greenway projects. The Centennial Park project has been a recipient of Greenway funds, as well.

For more information on the project, visit www.imaginelasalle.org.

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