BUFFALO NEWS: Ground Broken In LaSalle Area Of Niagara Falls

Mark Grisanti

August 15, 2011

LaSalle makes up a distinct part of the city’s fabric. Home to the city’s only branch library, a community organization and proud, vocal residents, the neighborhood has been missing one key component:

A park where residents will finally have access to the undeveloped shoreline of the Niagara River.

“The LaSalle neighborhood has rediscovered itself,” Mayor Paul A. Dyster said today in LaSalle Waterfront Park. “It’s rediscovered its history, which is a history that is closely linked with the waterfront.”

Dyster joined Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, and other local and state officials today to officially break ground on the park, though chainsaws and chippers have already been blaring.

The result will be a park where residents can eat lunch on shaded park benches, fish off a floating dock or walk at river’s edge atop a cantilever deck. Others can relax in a gazebo, play games in the grass or ride a bike on an existing river trail.

Festivals have been held at nearby Griffon Park to draw more residents and visitors to the waterfront, and though the city is surrounded on two sides by water, there are “relatively few” public waterfront sites, Dyster said.

“We were missing one thing,” Dyster said. “We were missing a centerpiece. We were missing that one public space where the people of this neighborhood and the people that are visiting this neighborhood from other parts of the city or from other parts of the region could come and gain access to the water.”

Located on Buffalo Avenue, the park is just east of the north Grand Island Bridge. The large, blue span sits adjacent to the water’s edge at the park, where currently a bumpy parking area gives way to grass, weeds and the river.

The first major phase of construction is expected to be completed in the next four months, officials said, and will be funded by $850,000 in Niagara River Greenway funds, $395,000 from state and Environmental Protection Fund grants and $66,000 from the city.

The project’s second phase, set to begin next year, is dependent on another $300,000 in Environmental Protection Fund and Greenway money.

The undeveloped land, site of the former Century Club, was designated as a park in 2008. Officials have asked residents to limit their use during construction to the bike and walking path.