A 2-1/2-acre city park off East Ferry Street is about to become a neighborhood outdoor sports complex.
Ground was broken Wednesday at Perkins Park in Buffalo, where a youth football field as well as a street hockey rink are being constructed.
The cost of the project is pegged at about $300,000 with funding coming from the Buffalo Sabres Foundation, the NHL Players Association, the Buffalo Bills, LISC and the Oishei Foundation.
The new sports facilities are expected to be completed by August, said Justin M. King, executive director of Resource Council of WNY.
Perkins Park is located adjacent to a community center at 347 E. Ferry St. that is operated by the Resource Council. The community center has an indoor gym, swimming pool, computer lab and fitness room. The Resource Council will also manage the new sports facilities.
The football field will be a 50-yard grass field designed for flag football and first-year tackle football players. The outdoor street hockey rink will be a three-quarter size rink with a floor suitable for street or roller hockey as well as soccer, field hockey and lacrosse.
"This project will improve access to a variety of sports for children in the city of Buffalo who will soon have the opportunity to learn and play in Perkins Park for years to come," said Rich Jureller, president of the Buffalo Sabres Foundation.
Saving Grace Ministries, which owns the building at 347 E. Ferry St., is part of the development team on the project. Currently, demand for youth sports facilities in the area exceeds what is available, so local teams go from park to park to park, said Rev. Terry King, chairman of Saving Grace Ministries and father of the Resource Council's Justin King.
"One of the overarching things is access and facilities. There isn't much and what is, is full," said Rev. King. "Now we can have something that has a local team."
Mayor Byron W. Brown, attending Wednesday's groundbreaking, said the city has invested over $320,000 in Perkins Park since 2011, upgrading basketball courts, the playground and picnic facilities. This summer, he said, $112,000 in improvements are slated for the park's picnic shelter.
Brown said Perkins Park has special meaning for him because, as Masten District councilman during the 1990s, he was involved in naming the park after Charles Perkins. Perkins, Brown said, worked through the Community Action Organization to expand and improving housing on Buffalo's East Side.
"Charles would be very pleased about today's groundbreaking," Brown said.