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The restored Como Lake Park lighthouse. (Submitted photo)
The restored Como Lake Park lighthouse. (Submitted photo)

Erie County investment of RENEW Plan funding invigorates historic parks' structures


Wed, Jan 26th 2022 01:55 pm

Seven capital projects restore mostly WPA-era buildings across four county parks; $1.3 million investment is Phase I of RENEW Plan for parks

The Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and forestry has announced the completion of six capital projects focused primarily on historical WPA-era buildings and facilities, and the near-completion of another project across four county parks.

Created by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1935, the Works Progress Administration put roughly 8.5 million Americans to work on infrastructure projects nationwide during the deepest days of the Great Depression. Numerous WPA-era structures, shelters and buildings can be found throughout the county parks system.

Primarily using roughly $1.3 million in RENEW Plan funding through the American Rescue Plan, along with available capital funding, renovations were completed on the following projects:

√ Chestnut Ridge Park comfort station No. 2

√ Chestnut Ridge Park comfort station No. 4

 √ Chestnut Ridge Park comfort station No. 5

√ Como Lake Park Lighthouse

√ Como Lake Park Casino Building

√ Ellicott Creek Park Island comfort station (this project is nearly completed)

√ Isle View Park Comfort Station (completed with regular capital funding)

“Our Erie County Parks system is a treasure that we are currently stewards of for future generations,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said. “It’s our duty to keep these natural spaces and their amenities as well-maintained as possible for today and for tomorrow. These buildings and facilities are a part of a rich history that transcends our parks and includes us in a greater American narrative – a story that began nearly 90 years ago and speaks of the value our forefathers placed on being able to enjoy the great outdoors as well as the work they were willing to do to make it happen.

“These renovations are the first phase of our RENEW Plan for the parks, investing up to $14.3 million in funding across the 10,000-acre system. Our parks have been extremely popular and well-used since the pandemic began, and visitors will be pleased to know that more renovations and restorations are ahead as we continue to preserve, protect and maintain our parks for the next generation.”

The restrooms and comforts stations receiving attention in phase one saw major renovations that included new floors, roofs, fixtures, amenities, partitions, doors and windows. Repairs to the WPA-era stone on four of the five comfort stations were also conducted.

Other RENEW Plan and/or capital projects in the planning and design stages in Erie County parks include:

√ Chestnut Ridge Park Casino restroom renovations, including accessibility improvements. These renovations will be well-sited to serve visitors to the nearby Playground for All, completed in 2021;

√ Chestnut Ridge Park main parking lot improvements, including drainage, green infrastructure, resurfacing, curbing and striping;

√ Wendt Beach estate renovations to the mansion, stables and parking lot;

√ Rehabilitation of four WPA-era shelters at Emery and Ellicott Creek parks;

√ Rehabilitation of the historic Grover Cleveland Schenck House; and

√ Construction of five additional inclusive playgrounds, to be located in Chestnut Ridge, Como Lake, Emery, Akron Falls and Ellicott Creek parks.

Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Troy P. Schinzel added, “Our parks continue to see a lot of visitors in every season, and these investments will be appreciated by all. Thanks to the RENEW Plan funding, we are able to work on some long-overdue projects that will enhance and beautify our parks as well as make them more accessible for years to come.”

For more information on the Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation & Forestry, visit https://www3.erie.gov/parks/.

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