It’s not even the middle of March and temperatures have broken the 60 degree mark. If you’re getting out your running shoes and baseball gloves, you won’t be the only one at parks in the City of Buffalo, because spring cleanup is already underway.
The sun is shining, birds are singing, and there’s green on the ground you don’t normally see at this time of year. Almost a month ahead of schedule, city workers are out combing the grounds of parks.
“It’s happening across all city parks,” said Deputy Commissioner for Parks and Recreation Andy Rabb. “We’re taking advantage of both the warmer weather and the fact that the ground isn’t too soft for us to get work done on, to try and get a jump on some of the spring cleaning here. Cleaning fence lines, getting the diamonds and fields prepped, cleaning off the courts, parking areas, those types of things.”
Within the parks, residents can look forward to enjoying some new features, too.
“Typically what we do with our parks program is we run about one million dollars per year of capital improvements and we’re going to continue that,” said Public Works Commissioner Steve Stepniak. “At McCarthy Park, you can see the new basketball courts and things that are going in that are just an amenity that seems to be a great success, and we’ve done that city-wide.”
Normally, winter is just part of the seasonal change in city parks, but this year, mild temperatures and relatively minimal snow was a bit of a help. Rabb said it helps the trees grow.
“A mild winter certainly helps keep things green, as long as we get the rain in the spring to keep it going through the summer,” said Rabb. “It doesn’t cause us any additional difficulties in getting the spring work done. It just moves everything forward about a month earlier than we normally do it.”
Also underway as part of the spring cleanup are street sweeping operations and pool maintenance. Last year, the city saw a significant increase in the number of swimmers at public pools. When asked if he expected to see high numbers again, Rabb said, “That’s all weather dependent. If it’s hot, we get increased activity. If it rains on us, we get not as increased. We’ll be ready for either situation.”
Residents have already started to call the public works department, eager to get out and enjoy the early spring weather. Rabb asks that they be patient during the few weeks it will take to complete cleanup and maintenance. He said the city is doing everything it can to be ready.