The public will get a chance on March 10 to see an updated design for Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park – formerly LaSalle Park – and offer their impressions of what is expected to be a $50 million redesign of the waterfront park.
The "Imagine LaSalle" design project will host a community meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m. March 10 at Waterford Elementary School, on Fourth Street in Buffalo.
Attendees will see a revised, large-scale model of the park and can provide feedback to the design team, according to the University at Buffalo, which, along with the UB Regional Institute, is leading the project's public engagement. The updated design is based on technical studies and analysis completed throughout last year.
The Lower West Side waterfront park is headed for a transformation, thanks to a $50 million donation announced in 2018 by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. Plans call for the project to be completed in 2024.
At the meeting, architecture and engineering firm Schlaich Bergermann Partner will present a preliminary design for a new pedestrian crossing spanning the Niagara Thruway, to connect the park with surrounding neighborhoods.
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, which is leading the schematic design of the park, will recap the work that was completed in 2019 and outline what's ahead.
The Buffalo Urban Development Corp., Gardiner & Theobald and the City of Buffalo are overseeing the project development.
In their concept design, project planners have previously put forward ideas including a hill for sledding and sunset watching, a lagoon, a playground and an ecological habitat.
Early plans unveiled last year included a 2.5-acre playground in the center of the park that included custom play areas for exploration, adventure and education with an emphasis on nature, waterways and the region’s industrial past. Proposed features included a giant-sized migratory heron that would be a launching point for children’s slides; an Erie Canal shipping boat and silo structures for climbing; and a toddler fishing village.
The City of Buffalo formally renamed LaSalle Park in October, combining the park's original "centennial" name with the name of the former owner of the Buffalo Bills.
The state announced in October it plans to replace the Hudson Street pedestrian bridge over I-190, which connects the Lower West Side residential neighborhood to LaSalle Park.
The bridge and a lagoon have previously been described as "two signature features" of the upgraded park. The state committed $10 million toward the bridge project, with additional funding commitments from the City of Buffalo and the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.
The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation in fall 2018 announced that it would designate $100 million toward park and trail projects in the region, including $50 million for remaking and maintaining LaSalle Park, and another $50 million toward creating and caring for a regional trail system.