Modified: September 15, 2022 2:00pm

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The Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry updated the community today on the recent completion of various capital projects and also provided updates on ongoing upgrades and other special renovations that are planned as part of the Poloncarz administration’s strategic approach to systemwide improvements throughout the county.

In the latest tally of Erie County Parks Capital Projects that have either been completed, started or planned since 2012, a total of $48,494,852 has been committed to improving facilities used for recreation activities to provide local residents and visitors to the region with opportunities to enjoy the resources available within the park system on a year-round basis.

Primarily using founding obtained through the American Rescue Plan along with available capital funding, various renovations were completed in 2022, including over $24 million in projects that are still ongoing and at various stages of the planning, bidding and construction phases. Approximately $14.3 million of the work is related to RENEW Plan Funding received through the American Rescue Plan, with a priority and major emphasis of utilizing that funding going towards the following:

* Recommendations made in the Parks Department’s Master Plan

* Works Progress Administration (WPA)-era building, facilities and historic structures

* Improving handicapped and special needs accessibility at parks throughout the county

* Upgrades or complete replacement of failing infrastructure (roads, bridges, parking lots)

“Our Erie County Parks system is a treasure that we should always preserve and protect. I feel strongly in maintaining and improving these natural spaces and their various amenities and these renovations continue our long-range planning in investing tens of millions in funding across our 10,000-acre system,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “The positive feedback we regularly receive will continue as more Erie County residents and visitors to our region react to these renovations and restorations and experience all that we have to offer as future capital projects come to fruition in the future.”

“Our parks continue to see many visitors throughout the year and these investments throughout our facilities will be appreciated by everyone who enjoy all that we have to offer,” said Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Troy P. Schinzel. “The funding obtained from the RENEW Plan has allowed us to work on some projects we’ve been eyeing for completion for quite some time. The continued enhancement and beautification of our parks and the emphasis on making them more accessible will allow for the preservation, protection and maintenance of these treasured assets for generations to come.”

Employees from the Parks Department received assistance from the Erie County Department of Environment & Planning and the Public Works Department in moving many of the projects forward. In addition, guidance from the Erie County Office for People with Disabilities helped with meeting requests received from the public on improving accessibility.

Among the capital projects that were completed this year:

• Wendt Beach Park roadway and parking lot improvements ($1.6 million)

• Chestnut Ridge Park casino roadway and parking lot improvements ($1.6 million)

• Ellicott Creek Park island comfort station renovation ($260,000)

Approximately $20.9 million in capital projects are currently defined as “works in progress” or in the planning stages of development, an extensive list that includes:

• Wendt Beach Park historic mansion and stable renovations ($5.8 million)

• Heritage Parks five inclusive playgrounds ($2.65 million)

• Higgins Natural Habitat Area erosion control, shoreline stabilization, various amenities ($1.2 million)

“Our parks have been extremely popular destinations for several years and we saw an increase in total visitors during the global pandemic,” said Schinzel. “We will continue to update the public as more renovations and restorations take place in the future and the capital projects currently in the planning stages move forward and progress and become buildings, facilities and natural spaces with unique amenities that will be enjoyed for many years.”

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