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Broderick Park master plan unveiled

One of Buffalo's oldest parks is getting some substantial renovations.  Broderick Park at the foot of Ferry Street will receive nearly $1.5 million in improvements.

Major renovations for the historic site were unveiled Thursday night at a public meeting at Rich Renaissance Center.

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper Executive Director Jill Jedlicka says her group has long been involved in planning for the park

"When you approach it by Niagara Street, most folks don't even know it is there," said Jedlilcka.  "And you see the Peace Bridge and you see the  flowing Niagara,  and you really feel all the beauty and history at that site, that's what makes it so special."

The park is little-known and well-known.  A key element in the history of slavery and freedom on the Underground Railroad and  a key recreational element for the growing and increasingly multi-lingual West Side. 

It was the last stop on the long walk to freedom in Canada, with many dying trying to cross. The thousands of drivers who cruise down the Niagara Section every day don't realize that long sliver of land and the breakwall toward the Peace Bridge usually filled with anglers and walkers is Broderick Park, reached by an unmarked walk or drive along the brick section of Ferry Street. 

Niagara District Common Council member David Rivera said the park is very important to the West Side and to the city but even more important to some.

"Many people come to this park from all over the country because it is part of the Underground Railroad," said Rivera. 

City of Buffalo Parks commissioner Andy Rabb said the million-and-a-half dollars for renovations will make the park a memorial to the Underground Railroad which took slaves to freedom. 

"What's going to be different is the whole park is going to be a memorial for the Underground Railroad. There were plans that are set forth to put a memorial in Broderick Park," said Rabb.  "What we're hoping to do with this is to make Broderick Park itself the memorial. so that when you walk into it you'll feel the character, the struggle, the story of the Underground Railroad."

Rabb said one key element of the project is signs along Niagara Street to tell people how to get to the park.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.