Residents who use Buffalo and Erie County parks
-- runners, golfers,
bikers, walkers, ball players -- raised two questions this week
proposal that the county take over some city parks:
Can the county absorb 800-plus acres of city parks without lowering
maintenance standards for the county's 11,000 acres of parkland?
If the county can improve city parks and not lessen care for its
Everyone seems to love the city's and county's parks, but not
quick to endorse a county takeover, according to interviews with
Suburban athletes who make heavy use of the city baseball diamonds,
courses and tracks would like to see them in better condition.
James Gibson, an Orchard Park physical education teacher and baseball
coach, speculated that more suburban than city ball players are
Park and Cazenovia Park fields in amateur leagues during the summer.
He said it is hard to find diamonds in top playing shape in the
diamonds in the county's Chestnut Ridge Park are not so good either.
"The diamonds in Chestnut Ridge are not being repaired in
any way shape or
form," he said.
Richard Stedman of Orchard Park, who operates a nursery, keeps
professional eye on the trees while he enjoys his winter walks
Ridge. "I notice there are a lot of trees in the park that
and they are not getting it. I don't see any preventive maintenance,"
He wonders about the wisdom of the City of Buffalo's transferring
"If they keep giving away things piecemeal, there isn't going
anything left to rebuild," he said. "As I see it, the
city has no master
plan. The city has a plan that lasts until the next election.
"As the city goes, the Niagara Frontier goes. People are
more interested in
the next election than the long-term benefits to the city."
Hamburg Developer Frank Parlato is a citizen activist with a particular
interest in parks. "I'm supportive of anything that will
serve the public
better," he said.
But he said the county has extensive and beautiful parkland that
it has not
opened sufficiently. He recalled a recent proposal, stopped before
go to fruition, to give Beeman Creek Park to the Town of Clarence
turn over green space at Sturgeon Point to private developers.
done enough to open up the splendid vistas of Beeman Creek Park,
Creek Park and Sturgeon Point," he said.
In recent summers, police arrested dozens of men loitering in
Creek Park to have sex with other men. Police stepped up patrols,
county put money into a children's playground and other facilities.
Ann Dinan and her husband Fran, a Canisius College professor,
Ellicott Creek Park in the Town of Tonawanda and picnic there
"It's somewhat nicer than it used to be," said Mrs.
Dinan. "There was a
period when I don't know if funding was short or what."
Mrs. Dinan, a nurse, said many suburban residents, including her
also enjoy walking around Hoyt Lake and seeing Shakespeare in
Park. She likes the improvements at Delaware Park Casino and personally
does not object to the county playing a role in supporting the
"A lot of people outside the city do use the city facilities,"
she said. "I
see no reason why the county shouldn't support them."
Mayoral aide Stephen T. Banko III said county takeover of city
parks was a
hot question this week at a fund-raiser for Mayor Masiello.
"A hundred people must have said to me, 'Don't give the county
Parks,' " he said. "And most of them were suburban residents."
A county employee, who uses county and city parks, noted that
the county is
constantly downsizing and has eliminated hundreds of jobs in the
years. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the worker said the
need a lot more manpower if it takes title to city parks.
"Parks are the dumping ground of political appointees,"
the employee said.
"Whether you have city or county, they can hire anybody.
I think the city
would be crazy to give over the Olmsted system."