If I were to tell you that Fireman’s Park in Downtown Buffalo was about to get a makeover, what would you say? Would you say “Where the heck is Fireman’s Park?” I guess when there is a lackluster park in our midst, it’s bound to be fairly obscure, mainly because of its derelict nature. Fireman’s Park has been derelict for many years. It’s the public park that is bounded by North and South Division Streets in Downtown Buffalo. It’s the one that has an inoperable modernist fountain and is usually inhabited by vagrants. It’s the first property that anyone sees when coming to Buffalo by bus. It’s also a park that should be a prime destination for ECC students. Unfortunately, Fireman’s Park has been out of sight and out of mind for far too long – an open parcel of public land that I once wrote, “In order to get to this park, one must play a real life game of frogger.”
Today is the day that the dismal image surrounding this park may finally disappear. ECC Students and faculty will be spending the day beautifying the grounds, as the college’s Service Learning, Building Management and Maintenance, and Architecture departments are putting a plan (developed hand in hand with The City) into action. While much of this park’s problems stem from the large traffic volumes that are created by the highway-style streets that envelop the park, the beautification steps taken by ECC in this Phase 1 project could eventually lead to bigger and better results. As we have learned over the years, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, and if nobody takes the the lead on a project, then train of thought tends to be ‘Let sleeping dogs lie’.
Thankfully, and I might add that it’s due time, a neighbor with a vested interest is taking the lead on this project. Not only does the college’s curriculum allow for immediate and longterm (hopefully) action, The City now has a vested interest in helping to maintain the property thanks to a critical partnership with ECC. I would think that a regular foot patrol would go a long way towards sprucing up the park’s image, but that would be asking for a small miracle. As for the anticipated work that we can expect from the initiative, the fourteen wood benches will all be restored and the broken fountain will be converted into a multi-tiered flower garden. In years to come, more ideas will surface (add yours in the comment section if you have a good one), as future classes will add their own distinct improvements to a park that is still dedicated to our city’s firemen. It would be great to see a firetruck arrive to water the flowers on occasion… talk about an impressive salute! Ideas that have been floated include a public work of art, enhanced overhead lighting, and flower beds. Now, if The City would only convert North and South Division Streets into boulevards rather than the disruptive inner city highways that stand today. One step at a time I suppose. Finally the first step has been taken.