Visit our FAQ page to learn more about the design process, the team, and timeline.
For specific questions about construction, visit Gilbane Building Company’s website.
For all other questions, please fill out our contact form and someone from our team will be in touch with you shortly.
What Will Be Happening At The Park This Summer? (Shared on April 6)
From Katie Campos, RWPC Executive Director, on April 6, 2023:
Construction on our park will begin in earnest this summer, and we want to make sure our community is aware of what is going on. We also want to share the cool science behind the park design decisions.
The park will be an active (and massive) construction site. Safety is of the utmost importance during this process, and we are working in partnership with the City of Buffalo to communicate what will be accessible and what will be closed off during construction. We want to keep everyone safe and informed while this major infrastructure project is underway.
Quite a bit of the park will still be open, and we hope you take advantage of it! The pool, splash pad, skatepark, football field and a temporary dog park will be open this summer. You’ll notice that the skatepark is actively being used, and we look forward to cooling off in the pool and splashpad this summer! In fact, we just rented the shelter by the splashpad to celebrate my kids 2nd birthday! You can rent a shelter through the City of Buffalo here.
It is important to note that one of the main drivers behind transforming the park is that it was deteriorating. Storms have become more intense with climate change– seiche events are more severe and much more of the park floods with each storm. Unfortunately, the blizzard this past December wreaked further damage on the park – leaving in its wake sinkholes six-feet in diameter and severely damaged paths and breaks in the guard rails along the sea wall.
Gilbane, the site Construction Manager, will begin its work this spring. The park will be a massive construction site, and much of it will be closed to ensure public safety — the park promenade and everything south of the football field parking lot will be closed to the public. Gilbane will be posting a detour for the Empire State/Shoreline Trail in the coming weeks, which we will share.
Over the next few weeks, Gilbane will be selecting companies to begin work on Phase 1 of the park. As their work schedules are confirmed, we will have a better sense of what that construction will look like, and we look forward to sharing that with you. We know that it is important for park users to understand what is going on, and we think the story behind the work is a fascinating one!
Phase One of Construction is Underway (from Feb 2023)
Phase one of construction began in 2022. The graphic below outlines the area of the park impacted during this phase. We anticipate this phase will be substantially complete by the end of 2024.
In addition to the site preparation and tree replacement process, the first phase will also include improvements to three baseball and softball fields, renovations to soccer fields, adding restrooms, and rehabilitating the inlet area to strengthen the shoreline and protect the park from higher lake levels and severe weather. There will also be a new pedestrian bridge across the I-190. The bridge will increase access to the park and waterfront and include new landscape landings.
The second phase of construction will begin concurrently, likely in late 2024. Many factors impact construction timing – we will continue to update the website with current status and information.
Site Preparation Began in 2022
In late 2022, the tree replacement process began to allow for shoreline reconfiguration which is necessary for flood protection, ADA accessibility, and significant changes in topography (think: hills). At this time, 276 trees were removed. About 2,680 trees will be planted as part of the park’s reconstruction. The WNY Land Conservancy is collecting seeds from local native plants and growing many of these plants from the ground up. WNY Land Conservancy will provide 50,000 plants, including trees, shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers to the park. This tree replacement process will provide a greater ecologic benefit to our shoreline than what was there before.
Each piece of this project is designed to protect and improve the environment. Some of the trees will be used as part of a plan for submerged shoreline habitat, called a rootwad*, and the rest would be chipped up. Many of the newly planted trees will be native species and will provide year-round seasonal enjoyment, shade, and ecological benefits to terrestrial and avian species. *A rootwad is a bank stabilization and aquatic habitat improvement strategy. It is a buried or a partially buried dead tree into the stream-bank with the root system still attached. This method improves the natural habitat and enhances the bank stability.
The process will help reconfigure the shoreline to provide flood protection for the parkland and to create pathways that meet American Disability Act (ADA) standards. Residents will be able to continue to use the park during this process. The park’s design was created with the community’s help and input, and it celebrates the equity and diversity reflected in Buffalo and the surrounding community.
In addition to the site preparation and tree replacement process, the first phase will also include improvements to three baseball and softball fields, renovations to soccer fields, adding restrooms, rehabilitating the inlet area to strengthen the shoreline and protect the park from higher lake levels and severe weather. There will also be a new pedestrian bridge across the I-190. The bridge will increase access and include new landscape landings.
Once complete, the Ralph Wilson Park will be an interactive recreation space for both children and adults to enjoy. The park will feature a diverse assortment of native plant and tree species that will improve the lives of birds and other area wildlife.
Event Updates or Cancellations
Events in Ralph Wilson Park have been suspended during construction.
If you have additional questions, please fill out the form below and our project team will get back to you.