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Ralph Wilson Park

In the News

Operation: Protect Our Park & Shoreline

August 25, 2023

How Will These Changes Protect The Park?

The park has been deteriorating and we needed to re-grade it to protect against rising water levels, increasing storms, and weather events. The park has been battered by storms. The majority of the park floods during a storm, and if the park wasn’t being rebuilt into the community’s vision, it would likely continue to be underwater during storm events and further compromise the seawall and park. 

There are two reasons for this: primarily, climate change. We are experiencing more frequent and intense storms. There are intense winds and waves that pick-up strength as they come from the west part of Lake Erie. Those winds are funneled into the park — our shoreline and Canada’s creates a funnel as the lake flows into the Niagara River and the park is in the bullseye.

The second reason is that the hard shoreline doesn’t absorb and dissipate the wave action, and the shallow water level of Lake Erie creates a bathtub effect that increases, rather than decreases, the waves. 

To protect against flooding from increased weather events and rising water, we are creating a new, resilient shoreline; raising the elevation of the park near the shoreline (581’ above sea level – currently the park is at 579’ above sea level); introducing changes in elevation (hills) up to 30 feet; and ensuring that the park will be ADA accessible, which it currently is not. 

This PowerPoint provides a visual overview of the ways in which we are improving shoreline resiliency.

We prioritized 4 shoreline design goals:

  • Structural resilience
  • Flood protection
  • Ecological restoration
  • Enhanced water access and experience

We engaged the experts to research and analyze what we can do to better protect the park and surrounding community. We introduced shoreline complexity, a departure from the straight, hard shoreline. We are replacing the vertical, hard sea wall with an armored slope of marine rock. Right now, wave energy reflects of the hard, vertical sea wall and exacerbates the disturbance in the water – it creates a bathtub effect where the water hits the sea wall, bounces off, gains steam, and then come backs stronger. We are replacing that with armored slopes – very large stone with gaps in between. The wave energy will move through those openings and get dissipated instead of getting reflected and more chaotic.

We analyzed the potential impact of storms and waves on the park after we raise the elevation of the bulkhead from 579’ ft above sea level to 581’ and replaced the hard, vertical sea wall with an armored slope and we found that the elevated bulkhead reduced flooding and wave impact.

Once the park is completed, we will have planted about 2,600 new trees (approximately 5x the amount of trees removed) that will provide comfort through shade and wind protection and seasonal interest through flowering and fall colors to all visitors.  Some of the removed trees will find a second life in the inlet area as rootwads and standing snags to enhance the new habitat being created.

The trees were removed in the early winter of 2022 as a way to protect the Northern Long Eared Bats, who were in hibernation elsewhere by that time.  This was a requirement of the regulatory agencies to protect the species.

Plans for New Ralph Wilson Park Unveiled at Community Meeting

May 10, 2023

About 200 residents showed up Tuesday in the cafeteria at Waterfront Elementary School to get updated on the latest plans for the conversion of LaSalle Park into Ralph Wilson Park.

RWP Cited As Example of Leveraging Investments

February 16, 2023

As the Wilson Foundation continues to spend down its funds, Ralph Wilson Park used as example of stacking dollars and leveraging investments. Read more

Site Preparation Begins at Park

December 2, 2022

Phase one of construction begins at Ralph Wilson Park with site preparation and tree replacement process. Read more

RWPC Hires New Executive Director

October 4, 2022

The Ralph Wilson Park Conservancy Board of Director announced that it hired Katie Campos as its inaugural executive director. Read more

Bell Ringer Podcast

August 3, 2022

Ralph Wilson Park Conservancy Board Members Marnetta Malcolm and JJ Tighe talk with Invest Buffalo Niagara’s Greg Pokriki about plans for the new park, the decision-making process behind the investment, and more. Read more

Park Project Continues to Grow in Scope

November 29, 2021

As additional partners come on board and additional needs and opportunities are identified, the scope of Ralph Wilson Park continues to grow. Read more

Additional Funds Will Support Dog Park and Gardens

March 30, 2021

Additional funding from the estates of Ralph C. Wilson Jr.’s daughters, Edith Wilson and Linda Bogdan, have been designated for the reconstruction of the dog park and the new entry gardens, as well as to the Conservancy to support ongoing maintenance of the gardens. Read more

Conservancy Formed to Oversee Ralph Wilson Park

January 27, 2021

The Ralph Wilson Park Conservancy has been created to lead operations and management of Ralph Wilson Park, the former LaSalle Park undergoing a $110M community-led transformation. Read Buffalo News Article | Read BizJournals Article

Pedestrian Bridge Receives Funding

April 16, 2020

Funding is now in place to design and build a signature bridge linking the park to the West Side neighborhood, a key contribution to our goal of increasing access to park space and the waterfront. Read more

A Playland ‘Beyond Anything We’ve Seen’

October 3, 2019

Community members met with playground designers to review the design for the custom playground being built based on the community’s – and kids’ – input. Read More

Redesign of LaSalle Park Solicits input from Kids

September 12, 2019

Kids were given the opportunity to show what they would like to see as design development for the playgarden continues. Read more

Kids & Parents meet with Landscape Architects to Share Ideas

September 5, 2019

Renowned landscape architects from MVVA will meet with community members to share work done to date and hear the community’s feedback and ideas for the reimagined LaSalle Park. Read more

Ralph Wilson’s Biggest Gift Yet – $50M to Transform LaSalle Park

October 17, 2018

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announced plans to transform LaSalle Park into a world-class destination with increased access to greenspace and the waterfront through a community-driven design initiative. Read more