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About

Who We Are

Partnering with
the Community

The Ralph Wilson Park Conservancy is the not-for-profit organization working in partnership with the City of Buffalo and the community to transform the former LaSalle Park into Ralph Wilson Park, a 90+ acre waterfront destination located on the shoreline of Lake Erie. Construction on the park will begin summer 2022.

The Conservancy will develop the framework by which Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park (Ralph Wilson Park) will be operated and maintained, with a continued focus on input from the community it serves. The Conservancy will work closely with the City of Buffalo Parks Department, taking on additional responsibilities such as enhanced park maintenance, non-structural improvements, turf maintenance, horticulture, furnishing, events and programming, concessions, marketing, and branding.

Community Working Group

As a complement to the Board and its committees, the Conservancy has established a Community Working Group, an evolution of the Imagine LaSalle Focus Group, to ensure that community involvement remains a key strength for the reimagined park. Community members should contact info@imaginelasalle.org for more information.

People’s Park

An artist's concept of the Great Lawn in springtime.

What We Do

Ralph Wilson Park will be a world-class recreational destination.

The park will be built over the next several years. Construction will begin this summer, starting with a signature pedestrian bridge giving park-goers easier access to the park, updating several of the baseball and softball fields, and rehabilitating a resilient shoreline to protect the park from higher lake levels and severe weather.

Questions?

Mission

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


Vision

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


Values

Community

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

Inclusiveness

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

Sustainability

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

Newsroom

History

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.

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.

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.

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).

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 will break ground in the summer of 2022.

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.

As a complement to the Board and its committees, the Conservancy has established a Community Working Group, an evolution of the Imagine LaSalle Focus Group, to ensure that community involvement remains a key strength for the reimagined park. Community members should contact info@imaginelasalle.org for more information.

Officers

Keith Belanger
M&T Bank
(President)

Marnetta Malcolm
Buffalo Funk Fest
(Vice President)

JJ Tighe
Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation
(Secretary)

Charles Torres
Puerto Rican and Hispanic
Day Parade of WNY
(Treasurer)

Directors

Barbara Danner
Freed Maxick

Douglas Jemal
Douglas Development

Brendan Mehaffy
City of Buffalo Office of
Strategic Planning

Chiwuike Owunwanne
KeyBank

Rev. Darius Pridgen
City of Buffalo Common
Council

Lawrence Quinn

Andy Rabb
City of Buffalo Division of
Parks & Recreation

One open position (to be appointed by the NYS Governor)