Grant will help develop public ‘play garden’
Congressman Brian Higgins announced $2 million in federal funding for Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park in Buffalo. The grant will support the development of a “play garden,” including eight play areas, park furnishings, landscaping and restrooms in space formerly known as LaSalle Park, which is undergoing a major transformation.
Higgins said, “From the Wilson Foundation’s commitment to Centennial Park, to the $43 million American Rescue Plan investment in Buffalo Parks, as well as plans to restore Olmsted’s vision at Kensington and Scajaquada, and to invest in Buffalo Harbor State Park, we are embracing the transformative power of parks. Not only will this investment change our landscape, it will improve the health and quality of life for residents, strengthen neighborhoods, and enrich our community for generations to come.”
The federal funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of the Interior with resources provided through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Buffalo is one of just 27 projects sharing a total of $61 million nationwide, and the only project funded in New York state. The grant was made through the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership program, which prioritizes park improvements in urban areas, as well as work embracing public-private partnerships. The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is making a multimillion investment in the Buffalo park.
"We are thankful for Congressman Higgins' longstanding support to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund through the Great American Outdoors Act – legislation which has now helped make this grant award possible. We are thrilled to see Buffalo receive this LWCF-funded Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership program grant to support the Centennial Park and improve outdoor recreation access for the community,” said Lesley Kane Szynal, chair of the LWCF Coalition.
In 2020, Higgins was among the leading congressional proponents of a permanent, recurring, annual $900 million appropriation for the Land and Water Conservation Fund through the Great American Outdoors Act, so that this important program would not be subject to the fluctuations of annual budget-making. That increased funding level helps make this award possible.
Higgins previously announced over $1 million in federal funding through the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration to support design and engineering work for the shoreline resiliency and aquatic habitat restoration at the park. This is in addition to a $10.6 million federal project, let by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District, which included construction of the new seawall at Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park.