There was a ribbon cutting this past weekend for Black Rock Canal Park. I took a ride to the County park yesterday, despite the foul weather conditions, to see the most recent work that had been completed. Most noticeable is the sizable dog park with two separate sides for both large and small dogs. The dog park has a shelter area for dog owners (and their dogs) to escape from the rain and snow – a nice feature considering its proximity to the water.
On the other side of the park (to the north), there is a new roundabout with permeable stone pavers and granite curbs at the end of an extended roadway with parking. Just past the roundabout is the continuation of the river walk, with new lighting and avian sculptures (a tribute to the migratory birds) on either side. The addition of solar compacting trash cans is welcome news for the park considering that, in the past, the area tended to attract unsightly litter. Parks Commissioner Troy Schinzel said, “The Parks Department is very excited about the completion of Phase I at Black Rock Canal Park, including our very first Bark Park, and we think the public will be excited as well. Without the involvement, volunteer efforts, and continued support of the Black Rock Canal Park Steering Committee and the Northwest Buffalo Community Center this may not have been possible. I would like to thank those individuals, as well as our partners in the Department of Environment and Planning, whose hard work and incredible energy were instrumental in bringing all the aspects of Phase I together.”
A press release that went out from the office of Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz highlighted the “Green” features at Black Rock Canal Park, which include:
· Increased Lawn Areas- larger grassy areas allow for rainwater to be kept on site, reducing high water levels in nearby bodies of water. Increased lawn areas also reduce the amount of sediment and pollution washing from the site in heavy rains.
· Bioswales- increase the benefits of normal swales by further reducing runoff. The wet-soil tolerant plants in these bioswales add plant diversity to the site.
· Porous Pavement and Pavers- parking areas and the turnaround have porous surfaces to allow rainwater to be collected and treated on site. These porous features reduce typical sediment and pollution runoff into nearby bodies of water.
· Decorative Stone Filter Strip- this narrow trench along the extended roadway contains decorative stone that will collect stormwater runoff and filter out sediment and pollutants before they are infiltrated into the ground, and will help to reduce runoff into the Niagara River.
· LED light fixtures- these 100-watt and 70-watt fixtures reduce energy consumption while providing a brighter and safer park environment for visitors.
· Solar Compacting Trash cans- these solar-powered, self-compacting trash cans will lessen the required emptying by maintenance crews and create more dense trash which will help reduce required landfill space.
· Additional landscaping- Trees, shrubs, and additional lawn areas have all been added to the park to help reduce the “heat island” effects from nearby pavement and also to help filter stormwater runoff.
Supporters of the park who attended the ribbon cutting included Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, Commissioner of the Department of Environment and Planning Maria Whyte, Commissioner of the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Troy Schinzel, Erie County Legislator Lynn Marinelli, elected officials, members of the Niagara River Greenway Commission, members of the Black Rock Canal Park Steering Committee, and community members.
The park, formerly known as the Ontario Street Boat launch and Cornelius Creek Park, is a little bit off the beaten path, and the entrance can be tough to find if you’re not familiar with it. But it is situated along the popular river walk bike trail, and there is a free boat launch that is frequently used all summer long. These new park improvements go a long way toward creating a destination for those who are not biking, launching boats and/or fishing. “It is very rewarding to know that a group of determined people can make a tangible difference to a neighborhood that means a great deal to us,” said Margaret Szczepaniec of the Black Rock Canal Park Steering Committee. “This is just the beginning of a wonderful destination that will be enjoyed now and in future generations. I am certain that when this is complete, all the volunteers involved will look around with pride and say ‘we helped build a park, that was the difference we made’ “.
If I were to throw my hat in the ring for ideas, I would add the need for a sound barrier wall along the river walk to the north, in order to buffer the noise from the nearby roadway. That buffer would help to create a sense of solitude away from the traffic (which can be seen and heard at this point).
*Funding for the feasibility study, master plan, and Phase I of construction amounted to approximately $1,000,000, and was provided by the NYS Department of State – Environmental Protection Fund, NYS Department of Transportation, NYS Canal Corporation, Niagara River Greenway Commission, Erie County, and the City of Buffalo.