A recent bus trip from Toronto to Buffalo to fly out of BNIA, required that I transfer to an airport bound Metro bus from the downtown bus terminal. As I waited for it at a stop, kitty corner to the bus station, I began observing the downtown neighbourhood surrounding the station. It was a weekday morning, about 10:45am a time when in most urban centres, you would expect to see a decent amount of foot traffic. But few people were to be seen anywhere.
Across the street from where I sat was a small park that sadly, did not seem the least bit inviting for me to visit. Indeed, in a city that is moving forward at a rapid pace, the park represented the Buffalo we are trying hard to change – it was neglected, unkempt and offered me no reason to want to sit and stay a spell, let alone walk through it.
In 2007, I lived briefly in Buffalo and remember going past that same park. Eight years later, it’s as if time has stood still. Nothing has changed a bit at that park. Why? Again, for a city that is advancing rapidly into the future, how can this park be stuck in 1985? The park, like the rest of an emerging Buffalo, should be active and engaging, attractive and inviting. Where are the hot dog carts and other food vendors? Where are the flower beds? The working fountain? The nice green shrubbery?
The area around the park strikes me as one that is ripe for renewal. There is already an ECC campus there, the NFTA bus station and other offices and agencies. It would seem a no brainer that this park could be a cool place where students could chill between class, and where office workers can grab a hot dog, a falafel or an avocado wrap from a range of food vending carts.
I don’t live in Buffalo, so I’m not privy as to why something has yet to be done about this gem waiting for its second debut, but I ask why has it remained stagnant? Does the city have a plan for it? If so, what is it? Can the park be adopted by nearby corporations to contribute to its upkeep? Similarly, can a community volunteer group be formed for the same purpose?
With so much investment happening in the city right now, wouldn’t it be great to see some investment in this little sliver of green that could help turn this neighbourhood to gold?
To answer your question Lorne, there is a fountain in Fireman’s Park, which broke a number of years ago. The fountain elements were filled in by a volunteer group from ECC, and then planted with flowers. BRO recently posted this article, which talks of the need to reexamine North and South Division Streets, and the high speed traffic corridors that lead from Oak Street (another high speed corridor) to Church Street (yet another high speed corridor).
If this park, along with Five Flags park, is relatively inaccessible due to numerous traffic lanes on all side, it’s safe to assume that it will not be frequented by people who are looking for calm and tranquility.
ECC’s beautification efforts are valiant, but the park is still a long way away from being welcoming. Seeing that the land in question is so close to the bus terminal, one would think that the NFTA would work with ECC and The City to come up with a long term plan of action for this parcel of land (the ideas that are mentioned in the above article) and surrounding roadways (traffic calming measures, bike lanes, etc).
The powers that be are aware of much of this, as we can see by taking a look at the City’s draft plans for redevelopment nodes in and around this key downtown area.