Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation supports enhancement of park and trails
√ Project will increase access to Niagara Gorge & trails
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, in partnership with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, announced work has been completed at the Devil’s Hole State Park gateway.
A press release stated, “The $795,000 project includes a gateway feature and a bike plaza, which provide a sense of arrival and orientation to the lower Niagara River segment of the shoreline trail. The design incorporates dolomitic limestone pavement, columns and seat walls using the same stone indigenous to the park. Also included in the project are a hierarchy of pathways, amenities such as bike racks and a bike repair station, a drinking fountain, signage, LED overhead lighting, refurbished landscaping, upgraded waterlines. Additionally, the restroom facility was renovated and made ADA accessible.”
The project was originally announced in September 2018. Work was completed last fall by A-1 Land Care of Lewiston.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “The commitment that the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation has made to Western New York is unprecedented, and their commitment to enhancing and increasing access to the magnificent Niagara Gorge is beyond appreciated. Communities love their waterfronts, and this project will allow trail enthusiasts of all ages to enjoy this one-of-a-kind waterfront.”
Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation President and CEO David Egner said, “The new Devil’s Hole gateway is an incredible addition to the shoreline trail, providing residents and nearby students with an enhanced recreational experience to enjoy. These new amenities and enhancements will improve Devil’s Hole, one of the many terrific ecotourism attractions that make up an impressive system of parks, gateways and trail connections in Western New York. This system, including the nationally recognized Empire State Trail, provide users with safe and accessible recreation opportunities across the region and state.”
In addition to the gateway plaza project, the New York Power Authority, through the Niagara River Greenway relicensing fund, has provided nearly $1.3 million on projects to restore stairs into the gorge.
NYPA Interim President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll said, “The New York Power Authority is proud to support this beautiful addition to Devil’s Hole and the shoreline trail in Niagara Falls. The pandemic renewed our appreciation for the great outdoors, and in New York state, that appreciation was matched by investments and improvements in parks and recreation spaces like the ones we are celebrating today – this beautiful new entrance to the park and the shoreline trail of Niagara County.”
City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said, “Here in Niagara Falls, we are especially lucky to have such natural beauty and wonder in our backyard. Our families, neighbors and communities have the unique opportunity to experience some of the most breathtaking views in the world. The new Devil’s Hole State Park gateway will help to elevate and expand our experience – making a trip to Devil’s Hole State Park yet another highly accessible, local, affordable getaway for our residents.”
Niagara River Greenway Executive Director Gregory Stevens said “NRG is grateful to Gov. Hochul, the New York Power Authority and the Wilson Foundation for the constancy of their commitment to continual enhancement of our Niagara regional green infrastructure enhancements; allowing us to connect all our communities to our waterfront greenspaces in support of healthier lifestyles. This new Devil’s Hole gateway is the capstone on the completion of the phenomenal trail system just completed from the Niagara Falls Aquarium north with the extensive ecological restoration all along the gorgeview section of the Niagara shoreline trail. This Devil’s Hole gateway is also the launch point for our next great initiative – the development of the lower Niagara trail network, which will complete the Niagara shoreline trail north to Lake Ontario, connecting the Empire State Trail and the Niagara Region to Lewiston, Youngstown and Porter.”
A press release noted, “Devil’s Hole State Park is a popular gateway to the Niagara Gorge rim state parks with parks to the south including Whirlpool and Niagara Falls State Park with Artpark, Joseph Davis and Fort Niagara to the north. The shoreline trail, a continuous multiuse pathway along Lake Erie and the Niagara River, is the route that connects these parks. Additionally, it connects to the Empire State Trail, a continuous 750-mile route spanning the state from New York City to Canada and Buffalo to Albany, creating the longest multiuse state trail in the nation.
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect the devotion of Wilson to his hometown of Detroit, and greater Buffalo – home of his beloved Buffalo Bills NFL team. Prior to his passing in 2014, Wilson provided that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the foundation that bears his name. Based in Detroit, the foundation began with a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires Jan. 8, 2035. For more information, visit www.rcwjrf.org.