People’s Park, located at 2435 Main Street, is one of the most inspirational pocket parks in the city. Actually, this city doesn’t have many pocket parks of this nature, but it should. 13 years ago, Thomas Montante, Chief Executive Officer, Montante Group, found himself in NYC admiring some of the urban packet parks. He was so inspired by the parks that he ended up donating his company’s Main Street parcel, which was most likely too small to build upon, to a community that took the ball and ran with it. Joanne Busch was the person who helped to orchestrate the foundations of the park.
People’s Park is a community green space featuring a pollinator house for bees, raised garden beds, a butterfly garden, a LittleFreeLibrary, and a small amphitheater, which serves as a venue for concerts and other social events, among other amenities.
The community has been running with the ball ever since. Each year, some awesome park advancement comes to pass, from the installation of eco logs (donated by the Olmsted Parks – felled trees) a composting bin, a rain barrel, and raised beds. Today I learned that one of the raised garden beds are cared for by the owner of Central Park Grill, where they grow veggies for their menu. One of the most interesting aspects of the park, to me, are the addition of the felled tree stumps and logs. I recently learned about an incredible eco art initiative that is underway called Life Support by Buffalo artist Joyce Hwang. Sometimes it’s the most inconspicuous eco installations that can speak the loudest, if you know where to look for them.
Moments ago, a new mural by Muhammad Zaman (lead image – artist from the Buffalo Arts Studio) was unveiled. Zaman has been seeing some significant exposure for his works in Buffalo as of late, a number of which are public installations. Zaman, who was named “Artist of the Year” at ASI’s annual Spark Awards event in May, collaborated with children from the Salvation Army Summer Camp at the site, to design and create the work that is based on calligraphy. The mural adds a dramatic splash of life to the park, which is a “must visit” for anyone interested in art, the environment, community undertakings, and urban microparks.
It would be great if there were actually bike lines along this juncture of Main Street – unfortunately we missed a wonderful opportunity a few years back (just before Complete Streets), when the City opted to install central planted medians instead of bike lanes. The missed alternative transportation initiative would have been the perfect partner project for the park.
Today’s unveiling ceremony was attended by Mara Montante (Director, People’s Park), Thomas Montante (Founder of the park), Buffalo City Council Member Ulysees O. Wingo, and numerous community members. A representative from the Erie County Legislature presented Thomas Montante with a proclamation from Erie County Legislature Chair April Baskin declaring June 20, 2019 as People’s Park Day in Erie County.
Zaman’s mural was supported by a grant from the New York State Council of the Arts and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation through an application submitted by the Arts Services Initiative (ASI) of Western New York.