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Ralph Wilson Park

A world-class
park in Buffalo, NY

The $110 million design and development of Ralph Wilson Park was inspired by Imagine LaSalle, a multi-year, community-driven initiative to guide the transformation of the former LaSalle Park. Thousands of partners, community members, and stakeholders have been involved in the planning and design of this signature, year-round attraction. The construction of the park began in 2022.

Community Collaboration

In 2018, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation made a lead commitment of $50M to support the City of Buffalo and surrounding community to transform the former LaSalle Park into a world-class destination. The Wilson Foundation provided added funding to launch the Imagine LaSalle initiative, a multi-year, community-driven effort to explore and develop a community vision for the park as it undergoes a $110M transformation into a world-class destination. The park’s name honors the legacy of the late entrepreneur, veteran, and philanthropist Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.

The University at Buffalo Regional Institute (UBRI) led the engagement effort in partnership with the Wilson Foundation, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, and City of Buffalo, represented by its Division of Parks and Recreation, Buffalo Urban Development Corporation (BUDC), Department of Community Services and Recreational Programming, and Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning.

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), a New York-based landscape architecture firm known worldwide for its creative and unique urban design, designed the park in collaboration with the City of Buffalo, BUDC, UBRI, and Imagine LaSalle project partners. MVVA is also designing a “sister” Ralph Wilson Park on the Detroit Riverfront, the other geographic focus for the Wilson Foundation. Architecture and engineering firm schlaich bergermann partner (sbp) is leading the design and construction of the new pedestrian bridge spanning the I-190, connecting Ralph Wilson Park with surrounding neighborhoods. BUDC and Gardiner & Theobold are managing the entire project. A team of diverse construction firms, led by Gilbane Building Company, will provide construction management services.

Who We Are

The Ralph Wilson Park Conservancy is the not-for-profit organization created to work in partnership with the City of Buffalo to operate, maintain, and promote the public use of Ralph Wilson Park, a 100-acre park located on the shoreline of Lake Erie within the City of Buffalo.

Established in 2021, the Conservancy is committed to reflecting the priorities laid out through the Imagine LaSalle public engagement process and establishing the framework by which the park will operate and maintain, with a continued focus on input from the community it serves.

The Conservancy will work closely with the local community and the City of Buffalo Parks Department, taking on responsibilities such as enhanced park maintenance, non-structural improvements, turf maintenance, horticulture, furnishing, events and programming, concessions, marketing, and branding.


To advance Ralph Wilson Park, a park within the City of Buffalo, creating a safe, vibrant, accessible, and inclusive waterfront park for generations to come


To support Ralph Wilson Park as a world-class park, through a high level of maintenance, sustainable and innovative management practices, exceptional greenspace and waterfront access, and by delivering diverse, community-led programming and recreation



Collaborate with neighbors and community leaders to continually improve stewardship of the park and ensure amenities and programming enhance quality of life and wellbeing


Ensure the park is an accessible and safe gathering space to enhance community events and recreation activities for all


Ensure high-quality maintenance and stewardship while protecting the long-term financial, social, and environmental health of the park and waterfront

Meet Our Team

Meet our
Executive Director

Born and raised in Buffalo, Katie Campos is deeply committed to the vision and mission of the Conservancy. “It is an honor to work alongside our community to realize our biggest dreams about what a world-class waterfront park can be: a safe, inclusive, vibrant place to gather, have fun, and be inspired.”

Find out more

Meet our Team!

RWPC leads community engagement around the park’s transformation. Once construction is complete, the RWPC will work closely with the City of Buffalo to operate, program, and promote the park. Learn more about us.

Board of Directors

The Ralph Wilson Park Conservancy Board of Directors includes representation from the City of Buffalo and other civic leaders, local community members, and representatives from the philanthropic and corporate community.


Keith Belanger

M&T Bank

Marnetta Malcolm

Buffalo Funk Fest
(Vice President)

JJ Tighe

Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation

Charles Torres

Puerto Rican and Hispanic
Day Parade of WNY
(Vice President)

Barbara Danner

Freed Maxick (Treasurer)


Douglas Jemal

Douglas Development

Brendan Mehaffy

City of Buffalo, Office of Strategic Planning

Chiwuike Owunwanne


Rev. Darius Pridgen

City of Buffalo, Common Council

Lawrence Quinn

Andy Rabb

City of Buffalo, Division of Parks & Recreation

Karen Utz

WNY Regional Director,

Empire State Development

of the park

1915 — In the beginning

LaSalle Park emerged from the waters of Lake Erie—literally—as much of the land that makes up the park was originally below water. In 1911, the City of Buffalo purchased a tract of land and underwater property between Georgia and Jersey Streets for $1 million. The massive Colonel Francis G. Ward pumping station, an architectural and industrial marvel that still provides the city’s water supply, was completed in 1915.

1932 — Creating LaSalle Park

The property was used as dumping grounds through the 1920s, and gradually filled in until 1931 when plans to create a permanent park were finalized. The City then began leveling, seeding, and landscaping the area, and Centennial Park opened during Buffalo’s Centennial Celebration in 1932. At that time, the Erie Canal formed the eastern edge of the park where I-190 is today. Soon after, Centennial Park was renamed LaSalle Park after René-Robert Cavalier de la Salle – the first European explorer to view the land that later became the city of Buffalo.

1998 — Planning for the Future

Over the years, the landscape of the park gradually changed as sports fields and recreational amenities were added, but little formal planning was done. In 1998, the City completed a comprehensive master plan for LaSalle Park. Some of the proposals of this plan were put in place, including the reconfiguration of sports fields. In the time since, other big changes were made to the park, such as the addition of the dog park and the skate plaza. In 2017, the park’s master plan was updated.

2018 – Imagine LaSalle Process Began

In 2018, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation made a lead gift of $50M to partner with the City of Buffalo and the surrounding community to transform LaSalle Park into a world-class destination, renamed Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park (Ralph Wilson Park).

2022 – Construction Began

Established in 2021, the Conservancy is committed to reflecting the priorities laid out through the Imagine LaSalle public engagement process and establishing the framework by which the park will operate and maintain, with a continued focus on input from the community it serves.

Collection of The Buffalo History Museum. General photograph collection, Parks-Buffalo and Erie County- Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial- Centennial Park.

Heritage Engagement Project

We launched the Ralph Wilson Park Heritage Engagement Project to uncover the history, dissect the science, and co-create a vision for the future of the Ralph Wilson Park.

Learn More