As winter melts into spring, thoughts turn to cutting the grass and planting new trees. The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy is thinking about that - and also about the buildings in city parks that need repairs - very expensive repairs.
Park visitors will notice the buildings surrounded by grass, trees and woods - like the Rumsey shelter house near Delaware Avenue and Rumsey Road. However, only after a close look will they discover the shelter is long closed.
The old shelter is in bad shape: about $500,000 bad shape. That compares to a new tree, which could cost $100.
The building should go out to bid for reconstruction this summer and be open again next year. Architect Anthony James told the Buffalo Preservation Board that roof is part of the problem.
"The roof is not good. The roof is, in fact, shot totally," James said. "It is a slate roof that has had a number of repairs over the years, some in slate, some in asphalt shingles. So we're going to take it all off. The base bid is to put real slate back. We do have a deduct alternative for the artificial slate."
As more and more people visit parks, they need the shelter houses, with their plumbing and roofs against the weather. Olmsted Executive Director Stephanie Crockatt said the more people use shelters, the more they have to include things like diaper changing tables and other amenities.
She said the city tries hard to help with major rehab projects, but there is only so much money, so there is a constant search for government grants and private fundraising. A Bank of America grant is helping fix up the Rumsey Road shelter.
There also are just a lot of buildings in city parks that need work. For example, the Parkside Lodge was recently rehabbed inside and out. State cash is paying for reconstruction of the landmark greenhouses in Martin Luther King Jr. Park, while the city paid for repairs on its centerpiece wading pool. The HVAC at the Marcy Casino needs to be redone and some of the stairs and concrete need to be repaired.