Modified: September 18, 2019 1:55pm
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined today by Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Troy P. Schinzel along with Parks department personnel at Ellicott Creek Park in Tonawanda to provide an update on capital projects and other work done in the Erie County Parks system during 2019, including numerous projects at Ellicott Creek. One of the county’s five “heritage” parks, Ellicott Creek originated as a county park in 1926 and is home to a number of WPA-era structures, including the park’s casino and boathouse. Renovations to the park’s four other WPA shelters, as well as newly-constructed shelters and other improvements at the Park, are just a portion of the total system wide Parks’ investments happening in 2019.
“Ellicott Creek Park is a good example of the work being done in our Parks’ system countywide and underscores my administration’s commitment to preserving our Parks’ heritage today while improving Parks’ facilities for the future. Capital improvements here include Shelter #9 – the brand-new shelter we are in today, built entirely in-house by Parks’ staff – as well as the new pedestrian bridge, multiple new roofs and related repairs on shelters across the park, and road repair and paving throughout the Park,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “Our Parks department has also painstakingly repaired heritage playground pieces here at the Park, such as the iconic farmer with his wheelbarrow, and has performed similar operations at all our Parks as we work to preserve a great park experience for future generations. That experience will be enhanced by the restoration work being done on the WPA-era stone structures here at the Park, bringing them back to their former grandeur for all to enjoy.”
Ellicott Creek Park Shelter #9 is a newly-constructed shelter with an adjacent pergola built entirely by Parks’ staff in a cost-saving measure. The new shelter replaces an older shelter, which will be demolished and whose stones will be re-used on other stonework projects in the park. Future improvements at this shelter will include paving to make the shelter ADA-compliant. The replacement of the Ellicott Creek Park Pedestrian Bridge was completed in July at a cost of approximately $221,000. The project included the removal and replacement of the bridge superstructure (steel girders and timber deck), railing, and concrete abutments, as well as some minor improvement to the trail approaches. The existing concrete piers were retained.
Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Troy P. Schinzel said, “Our staff has been working hard this summer and their efforts are clearly visible, with new shelters, new roofs, new paving and other amenities all in place. Historic WPA-era structures are also receiving a high level of care as they are restored and brought back to functionality. In addition, our department has meticulously addressed the renovation and repainting of heritage playground equipment system wide, including here at Ellicott Creek, so that future generations can enjoy the same quality parks’ experience we did. It’s important to preserve that history and heritage for the future rather than throw it away as some would have done.”
Shelters #6 and #& at Ellicott Creek Park are WPA-era structures that are approximately 80-90 years old. These historic and popular stone structures, the type seen throughout the county parks system, are long-lasting but require upkeep to maintain stone integrity and usefulness of the structure. Shelters #6 and #7 at Ellicott Creek are now undergoing extensive restoration, including complete replacement of roof structure, supports, slabs, and foundations, and stone rebuild and restoration. This project also includes the demolition of Ellicott Creek’s concession stand addition and its conversion into a utility room, with complete replacement of the roof structure and installation of new restroom lighting.
Other investments in the parks that are underway or planned to begin include:
- · Akron Falls – an investment of $95,443 to conduct five (5) shelter building upgrades at Akron Falls Park and including new roofs, concrete pads, fascia, etc. along with a $25,000 investment for improvements to the Ice Rink/Skating area
- · Chestnut Ridge Park Ski Tow – an investment of $350,000 for the purchase and installation of this popular winter attraction that will help re-introduce downhill skiing to CRP. Additionally, Parks’ plans to rehabilitate and renovate 4-5 historic WPA-era comfort stations at Chestnut Ridge, an investment of approximately $400,000
- · Sprague Brook, Como Park, Emery Park, Ellicott Creek Park, Akron Falls and Chestnut Ridge will all see paving operations in 2019, at an estimated cost of more than $400,000
- · Emery Park – an investment of $153,000 for renovations to the Tennis Courts, including adding Pickle Ball, is accompanied by an investment of $37,000 for a new tile floor in the Ski Lodge
- · Como Lake Park Dredging Project – this ongoing investment, anticipated to be complete this fall, is restoring the beauty of Como Lake
- · Forestry - Five (5) buildings will get brand new roofs, with work to be done in-house
- · System wide, installation of electric vehicle charging stations is planned for ten more park areas.
Iconic, “heritage” pieces of playground equipment at county Parks have also been preserved and repainted by parks’ crews, including the Farmer with Wheelbarrow and Island swing set at Ellicott Creek Park. Both of these pieces have been favorites of park goers for generations, along with similar “heritage” pieces at other county parks, and were cleaned and repainted this summer to address lead concerns. A system wide effort to address these concerns has concluded with the preservation of ten of these pieces, located in Ellicott Creek, Akron Falls, Chestnut Ridge, Elma Meadows, and Sprague Brook parks.
Poloncarz added, “Safety is our first concern, and while the hazards of lead paint are far more serious in pre-1978 housing where lead dust and paint chips are an issue rather than in an open-air situation like our Parks, we acted to protect and preserve these assets. Our Parks Master Plan already calls for the removal of much of the parks’ older inventory of playground equipment, picnic tables, and other such items, a process that had been ongoing, so I thank our Parks and Health departments for coordinating a quick response and keeping the public safe. While some would throw away our parks heritage and leave us with nothing, we instead acted to protect these assets for our children’s children.”
For more information:
On the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry visit http://www2.erie.gov/parks/
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