The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park (Michigan) received a $2 million federal grant boost last Wednesday to develop its 2.5-acre playground.
The large-scale playground planned for the former LaSalle Park on the West Side will emphasize nature, waterways, and the region’s industrial past.
The project also calls for a giant-sized migratory heron as a starting point for the slides, an Erie Canal shipping boat, “Silo City” structures for climbing, and a toddler fishing village.
The playground will have multiple play areas with new park furnishings, plants, trees, and restrooms, according to a report.
JJ Tighe, who directs the Wilson Foundation’s Parks & Trails Initiative, expressed appreciation for the National Park Service, New York State Parks, and others, including the City of Buffalo, for cooperating to work on the project and “to achieve the full community vision for the park.”
“It’s partnerships like this that are allowing the full park to be built,” Tighe said.
The new playground is one of several significant changes planned for the park under the direction of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, which in 2018 announced it would spend $40 million to construct a new park, along with an additional $10 million for an endowment.
The Wilson Foundation and government and private sector partners on the park’s total amount are now over $140 million.
The park’s designer is Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, a Chicago-based landscape architectural firm that has worked on several city parks, including Maggie Daley Park in Chicago and Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn.
The first major work at the park is expected to begin with installing a new pedestrian bridge over the I-190 later this year.
The park project is expected to take around three years to complete.
The grant is part of the $61.1 million that the Interior Department is sending to boost 27 projects in 26 cities to develop new parks and trails or renovate existing parks.
The funds originated from the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland dramatically boosted its funding as part of the America the Beautiful Initiative.
Currently, the program provides funds “to provide economically disadvantaged communities with the means to create and improve parks, trails, and recreational opportunities,” National Park Service Director Chuck Sams said.
In five adjacent neighborhoods, it contains about 6,000 children, exceeding the poverty rate of 20%.
This article originally appeared on The Buffalo News.