Buffalo, NY—Mayor Byron W. Brown, in conjunction with Trust for Public Land, and the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, today unveiled a ground-breaking master plan for the City of Buffalo’s parks system.
“This plan not only protects Buffalo’s existing parks legacy, but lays the foundation for an equitable and inclusive parks system our residents will be able to enjoy for generations to come,” Mayor Brown said. “The pandemic reminded us how critical parks are to our quality of life. Now is the time to build on our nationally-recognized parks system by enhancing the year round experience in our existing parks, while also prioritizing investment in parks, trails and recreation spaces in our City’s historically underserved neighborhoods.”
The plan, developed in collaboration with Trust for Public Land, is the first new master plan for the City’s park system in over 30 years. It highlights how the park system can better serve all residents, especially those in historically-underserved communities, through investment based on social, health, natural, and built environment needs. These needs were overlaid with data showing factors like proximity and access to parks and green spaces, physical inactivity, and tree canopy, which then helped generate a map identifying service and access equity gaps. The plan also identified near- and term-opportunities to strengthen the park system, from volunteer engagement to capital investments to operational and safety improvements.
“Buffalo has amazing parks that help residents get outside and enjoy the benefits of nature, and this plan offers data-driven solutions to improve these green spaces to reflect the needs of the community,” said Carter Strickland, VP of the Mid-Atlantic Region and New York State Director for The Trust for Public Land. “By making open space more widely accessible, and improving park infrastructure to better suit the needs of the community, Buffalonians will see improved recreational opportunities, climate resiliency, financial benefit, and overall wellness.”
The Brown administration will use approximately $43 million to parks capital improvement projects outlined in the plan from its federal American Rescue Plan allocation.
“The pandemic has reminded us of the importance of public spaces to connect people and neighborhoods, and that’s why the American Rescue Plan makes funding for parks an eligible use for local spending,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “The City Parks master plan will provide improvements and expansions to local parks to address the needs of underserved communities by providing safe recreation areas, increasing economic opportunity, promoting overall health and wellness, and contributing to environmental improvements.”
Funded by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, the master plan has been in development for over two years. The data-driven plan was also informed by a series of forums, open meetings, and other public outreach activities, that engaged approximately 1,200 residents, stakeholders, and nationally recognized experts.
“I want to thank Trust for Public Land, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, as well as the residents and stakeholders who came forward to make this project possible. Now it is time to take up the work of implementing this plan and preserving Buffalo’s reputation as a City whose crown jewel is its public parks system,” Mayor Brown said.
“The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is proud to support the City of Buffalo Parks Master Plan to build on Frederick Law Olmsted’s legacy and improve the quality of life for its residents. The plan provides an opportunity to capture the rich history of parks in the City of Buffalo and work together to preserve these community assets for generations to come,” said JJ Tighe, director of Parks & Trails Initiative for the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.
Trust for Public Land and the City also identified the incredible economic and fiscal value parks provide for residents, the private sector, and local government. In addition to the $23.6 million annually the Parks generate through tourism, they also help reduce air pollution-related costs by $406,000, filter and collect stormwater which results in $234,000 in stormwater management value, and raised the total amount of property values throughout the City by approximately $102 million.
The City is already in the process of implementing several elements contained in the plan. Currently, the Administration is working with the Buffalo Public School District to allow year-round access to local schoolyards for the public.
To review the plan and interactive park maps, and learn more about the City of Buffalo parks system, visit: WWW.BUFFALONY.GOV/2021PARKSPLAN.
Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 3 million acres of public land, created more than 5,000 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $84 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected more than 9 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.