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$2 million in equipment purchases planned as city reclaims parks

The city is planning a $2 million upgrade of the equipment and vehicles that are used to maintain Buffalo's sprawling parks system.

The purchase of more than 125 mowers, trailers and other maintenance equipment is expected to be authorized Monday at a special meeting of the state control board that oversees city finances. The Common Council approved the plan on Tuesday.

The purchases are tied to the city's decision to reclaim control of its parks, playgrounds and recreation centers. Erie County had been managing the facilities since 2004.

Much of the equipment that was being used to maintain the 190 sites was "outdated and beat-up," said city Public Works Commissioner Steven J. Stepniak.

"We want to make sure we have updated equipment so that we can do the best job possible maintaining our parks," he told The Buffalo News.

Deputy Parks Commissioner Susan M. Gonzalez said about half the equipment will be used by city workers, while the rest will be assigned to the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy. The not-for-profit group maintains the six historic parks and connecting parkways designed by prominent landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in the 19th century.

City officials have given assurances to the control board that no take-home vehicles will be included in the planned purchases.

The list includes everything from tractors and stump grinders, to mulchers and fairway cutters. The cost estimates of the equipment total more than $2.3 million, but Stepniak said he is confident the final tab will be no more than $2 million.

"We're even looking into buying some used equipment that's only a few years old but is still in very good condition," he said. "We're trying to save as much money as we possibly can."

City officials want to make the purchases soon so that the equipment arrives in time for the start of the mowing season.

Assuming the control board approves the purchases at its Monday meeting, the city will use capital funds to pay for the equipment.

e-mail: bmeyer@buffnews.com

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