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The Buffalo News (New York)


Eleven Buffalo parks and athletic fields, situated in all corners of the city, are being targeted for improvements in hopes of getting better use out of them and advancing the school district's sports program.

Funding has not been secured for the project, but a study is underway to determine what needs to be done at the six city parks and five district athletic fields — and at what cost.

City residents are invited to give their input during three community meetings scheduled this week: at 6 p.m. today in Waterfront Elementary, 95 Fourth St.; 6 p.m. Wednesday in Bennett High School, 2885 Main St.; and 6 p.m. Thursday in City Honors School, 186 E. North St.

The 11 sites are:

· All High Stadium at Bennett High School.

· Charles Dingboom Field at Riverside High School.

· Glenny Park on Fillmore Avenue.

· Grabiarz Field at the corner of Military Road and Lawn Avenue.

· JFK Park on Hickory Street.

· Johnnie B. Wiley Sports Pavilion-Masten Park on Jefferson Avenue.

· McCarthy Park on East Amherst Street.

· Mungovan Park on Southside Parkway.

· Olmsted at Kensington Field on Suffolk Street.

· Seneca High School Field at MST on East Delavan Avenue.

· Waterfront-Emerson Young Park on Fourth Street.

"We're not looking to completely redesign these locations," said Andy Rabb, Buffalo's deputy commissioner of public works, parks and streets. "These meetings are more focused on the user groups, and neighborhood groups who are in these parks, and to get their take on what improvements are required, whether it's better lighting or drainage or improved bathroom facilities."

Buffalo Public Schools is trying to elevate its athletics program, but to keep pace with suburban schools it needs better fields and facilities.

"Some of them are to the point where they're getting outdated," said Anibal Soler Jr., associate superintendent of strategic alignment and innovation for city schools.

The city and school district partnered with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo to secure a $360,000 planning grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. That funding will pay for the study being conducted by SWBR Architects in Rochester, which won the bid.

"The city and the school district are really collaborating on this to see how park and school facilities can be opened up for broader use by the community," said Bill Price, a landscape architect with SWBR and the project manager.

"We're trying to find out from the people who use the facilities what they see could be repaired or improved that would make it a more enjoyable experience," Price said. "Is that more bleachers? Better parking? Making sure the concessions stands are open when things are going on?"

The consultants hope to have another round of public meetings at the end of January, with cost estimates and designs completed by late winter.

The study on the 11 parks and fields is one of three being undertaken, thanks to a total of $1 million awarded by the Wilson Foundation. The other two studies focus on the opportunity for an indoor field house in the city and transforming LaSalle Park on the Lower West Side into a signature park.

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December 4, 2018


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