LaSalle Park on Buffalo’s West Side is well-known for potholes and roller-coaster-like drives along the waterfront. With an infusion of $1.4 million from the city, that reputation will soon be no more.
Mayor Byron Brown was joined by Public Works Commissioner Steve Stepniak and Deputy Public Works Commissioner Andy Rabb on Wednesday morning as he announced the funding, which brings total investment in the park since 2006 to more than $7 million. Brown said this latest round of investment will be put towards improvements to the parks roadways, upgrades to playgrounds and picnic shelters, and an expansion of the city’s first skate park to twice its original size.
Brown said LaSalle Park is one of the busiest parks in the city, largely used by residents in the surrounding neighborhood, but also frequented by people from across Buffalo and Western New York.
“Whether it is Centennial Pool, whether it is Barkyard – the dog park, or whether it is the grills, people seem to love this park and they use it quite frequently,” said Brown.
Rabb said the current improvements to the park are nearly done. He expects substantial completion by the end of August.
“There might need to be some site restoration work to restore some of the lawns and things like that,” said Rabb. “But the paving, the signage, the major work will be done by the end of the month. Same thing for the skate park. We’re in the final stages of construction over there, so we’re looking to complete that project as well.”
Rabb explained that the work is part of the third phase of improvements being done on LaSalle Park. The first phase included re-paving the park’s entryway at the foot of Porter Avenue, followed by reconstruction of the area surrounding Centennial Pool. While the current roadway improvements are being focused on DAR Drive, an additional phase after the end of August will see Amvets Drive and the seawall in front of the Colonel F. G. Ward Pumping station reconstructed. That latter project will be designed with help from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Rabb said tackling the project in phases has helped keep the park accessible and open for large events.
“We have been working with the patrons of this park to keep this park accessible and do the improvements that we have for the past ten years,” said Rabb.
With so many improvements, LaSalle Park may soon join places like Canalside as a waterfront destination for large events. Brown said with the band shell and its open spaces, the park was designed to host events like this weekend’s Puerto Rican and Hispanic Day Parade.
“There will be a large concert here in the park where the amphitheater will be used. There will be literally thousands of people here for the concerts as part of the Puerto Rican and Hispanic Day Parade and the roadway will be open to allow for people to be able to enjoy that major event,” said Brown.
Brown said the city’s management team has been very effective in finding funds to support LaSalle Park’s improvements. The funds come from a mix of city bonds, state money, greenway money, and support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.