There is (currently) a huge turnout for the LaSalle Park planning meeting at the Niagara Library on Porter Avenue. Yes, I’m reporting live and will continue to post updates as the meeting progresses. The crowd is still filing in and seats are being brought in from other rooms. Andy Rabb from Parks and Recreation has just taken the floor. He starts the meeting by talking about the various phases at the entranceway to the park.
There is a finite amount of money available, and the draining and the roadway issues are of utmost importance. At this point there is $983,000 that The City has to dedicate to engineers and implementation. The City has applied for $200 thousand from Greenway Trails – signage will also be added. There are no additional parking spaces being added – they are reworking the parking to jibe with the dedicated bike and ped trail (one on the sidewalk for slow moving bikes and one in the street for faster cyclists). There is a want and a need for traffic calming. The City is mostly concerned about narrowing driving lanes, drainage, and possibly additional police cameras. As for the late night illicit activity that takes place in the park, what about a gate that closes at specified times?
The current improvements do not preclude future plans from coming to pass. In order to get some of the benefits from the Master Plan during the Masiello administration. But those moneys are not available right now and fixes need to be made. This is a roadway reconstruction. The City is trying to narrow the roadway, and working with GObike Buffalo for the dedicated bike lane. Strategically placing parking away from the water (opposite side of the road), and making it easier for families to access the park without crossing the road. There will also be new pavilions added, and bollards added to the ShoreLine Trail. That connects the park to the Shoreline Apartments. It’s also possible to add a zigzag element in the middle of the trail, to help prevent any smaller motorized vehicles from speeding down the path.
As for the seaplane ramp, it’s not part of the scope for this project. The City is thinking about starting a planning process for that ramp and the property that bounds it… sounds like a long stretch though. Now the crowd is asking why certain roadways aren’t simply removed. The City is saying that that is just not possible. There’s not enough money.
The crowd wants to know about community meetings. Where are they? Where have they been? Why are we investing money now, when the money should be bundled into a real MASTER PLAN. If you think that The City is going to come back to this after putting this small sum of money into these ‘improvements’ you have another thing coming. The crowd is saying that even if the road curves are narrowed, cars will still speed around because once the road is smoothed out it’s going to become a little speedway.
Some of the concerns are about cars backing up into the diagonal parking spaces. That will be very interesting to see how that pans out. Why not simulate the traffic patterns in Delaware Park? Remove traffic from part of the park – just like Delaware Park. Move the picnic shelters, and design the park to accommodate picnickers, cyclists… everyone. Once again, the problem is that the community has not been involved with this discussion until the plan is set in stone by The City. If the community had been brought to the table early on, a lot of these issues could have been addressed and the problems resolved.
If The City is planning on moving forward with this plan, then what about simply placing speed bumps throughout and expanding the green space along the lake [from a citizen in the crowd)? Apparently due to snowplows, speed bumps are not feasible in the city [from The City]. But what about temporary speed bumps? Why not put parking away from the water at a dedicated lot? And remove the parking from along the water? Why weren’t more stakeholders brought into the loop? The City says that there were a couple of meetings – even though it seems that much of the community was left in the dark. Rabb also says that the Office of new Americans was notified, and that office was charged with getting the word out to diverse ethnic communities.
There will be bumpouts, but no stop signs at this point. So what will a traffic crossing look like, next summer, and in the future?
The Master Plan (The City) needs to get all of the departments on the same page, so that there are operational plans that take care of the park moving forward. Will there be police and traffic enforcement? Will there be parking enforcement? As for the seawall that has been damaged for years, The City says that it is in talks with the Army Corps of Engineers. There is a limited scope to this project, which is unfortunate, because this most likely means that we will not be revisiting another park plan for a long time. I hope that I am wrong. It’s like putting a band-aid on a hemorrhaging flesh wound, hoping that the patient lives to see another day.
Will the garbage be cleaned up, because currently garbage is left behind on a regular basis [all coming from crowd].
The project is being put out to bid this summer, with work being completed next summer. So, any additional planning efforts would delay the project [from The City]. Which means that what we’re looking at is pretty much what we’re going to get.
It’s 7:40pm, and the meeting is wrapping up. Until next time… if there is one.
Thanks to Rachacha for additional images