Just around the bend from Mutual Riverfront Park is Red Jacket River Front Park. It’s funny to think that Mutual Riverfront Park has become such a widely known and utilized waterfront park, as Red Jacket River Front Park remains obscure and foreign to waterfront enthusiasts.
Currently, Red Jacket is undergoing habitat restoration by Erie County Department of Environment and Planning (Designed by Wendel and Biohabitats – funding from Great Lakes Restoration). Currently there is a beautiful nature trail that winds throughout the site, with vantage points onto the Buffalo River. Creation of additional wetlands and wildlife habitat along the shoreline are underway. This means that this park will soon be another crucial component to the Buffalo Greenway Vision. This “Red Jacket Peninsula”, once the site of Buffalo Color Corporation, encompasses 19-acres of land.
Don’t let the “work under way” status of the park dissuade you from paying a visit. Despite the cleanup and the habitat restoration, this is an awesome park. There’s a small canoe/kayak launch, and plenty of trails to hike.
Over the last half decade, we have seen so many undervalued parcels of land restored and returned to viable uses along the Buffalo River. One of the reasons that these properties have become so visible (for people and nature) is that they are connected by road and trail. One can bike from River Fest Park to Mutual Rivefront Park is a matter of minutes, by way of designated bike lanes and paths. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Red Jacket River Front Park, which is disconnected from the rest of the parks, as you we can plainly see.
By Googling around on satellite maps, it looks as if there is potential to connect Red Jacket with the rest of the parks via bike trail. There appear to be some rails to trails opportunities from Republic Street to Katherine Street, that then connect to a wooded area (Red Jacket), and all the way to Valley Community Center and South Park bike lanes.
Old First Ward activist Peg Overdorf told me that UB professor Hiroaki Hata‘s Department of Architecture and Planning’s class conducted a study see if connectivity was possible, with positive results. She also mentioned that the WNY Land Conservancy is studying ways to connect the DL&W Terminal to Red Jacket and the Buffalo River by use on an elevated berm. That scenario would need buy-in from the NFTA (possible Southtown Connector). Looking at Google maps, the berm (formerly elevated rail line) starts at Moore Street (River Fest Park) and goes all the way to Red Jacket unobstructed.
The good news is that there are a lot of folks who want to make connectivity happen, because they understand the value of Red Jacket River Front Park and its key position along the Buffalo River.