This is something new for Buffalo, and a fine thing it is. Planning is under way for a new city park, but the planning is not occurring in City Hall. It has taken place among the residents of the Black Rock neighborhood where the new waterfront park would be built. It's the kind of bottom-up initiative that helps to make cities cohesive and enjoyable places to live.
The plan is to renovate a half-mile stretch of riverfront in the city's Black Rock section, turning an old boat launch and recreation area into a new park that includes a playground, picnic shelters, indoor meeting space and a dog park. A boardwalk and bike path also would be included.
Perhaps most attractively, the plan, with an estimated price tag of $10 million, suggests its own funding source: the new Niagara River Greenway Commission. The Greenway, funded through this year's relicensing of the Niagara Power Project, envisions a green riverfront from the Niagara River's source at Lake Erie to its mouth at Lake Ontario. This project sounds like a perfect fit with the Greenway's mission.
The idea is being driven by a citizens group, the Black Rock-Riverside Good Neighbor Planning Alliance, and its work has impressed city and county officials enough that they have already found money for a feasibility study.
This effort could be a template not only for other Niagara River neighborhoods where Greenway funding might be possible, but for other places as well. Paying for those projects could be trickier, but politicians like nothing better than pleasing large groups of constituents. When they can do that, and serve a legitimate and popular public purpose as well, they can hardly resist.