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Erie County reaches agreement to extend Chestnut Ridge Conservancy support

Erie County

Erie County is looking to continue its decade-long relationship with a group that supports repair and improvement projects in Chestnut Ridge Park.

While the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy supports all of the city's landmark parks, the Chestnut Ridge Conservancy focuses on its namesake 1,200 acre park in Orchard Park, much like specific groups in New York City that support Central Park and others.

County Recreation Deputy Parks Commissioner Jimbo McDonald said the Chestnut Ridge Conservancy is the only such agency involved with county parks, although there are groups that help with individual projects.

"There are groups that we have agreements with for different other projects around the park system, for example, the Ellicott Island South Park has a group of supporters that we have an agreement with them for maintaining and keeping up on things," he said. "We're currently, right now actually this week, broke ground on a Como Lake bark park, which we have an agreement on with a group called Lancaster Unleashed."

Chestnut Ridge Park has eight workers assigned to the park and constant needs for work, like cutting down trees and planting new ones. The county has been dealing with imported bugs that are wiping out chestnut and ash trees across the country. So the extra support is welcomed.

"They've definitely done a lot of work, to date," said McDonald. "They did all the refinishing work on the casino floors in the Chestnut Ridge Casino, trailheads, rest area projects at the Eternal Flame, a bunch of different other WPA stonework restoration in the park, new park entrance signs."

Credit Chestnut Ridge Conservancy
Among its projects, the Chestnut Ridge Conservancy raised more than $525,000 in private donations and another $75,000 from Erie County Parks for a new "Playground for All," a playground for all abilities, scheduled to be installed in August.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the county and the conservancy requires approval by elected officials.

"Have that contract agreement with the Chestnut Ridge Conservancy to allow them to operate with the mission of accomplishing projects, so that they can continue to have their non-profit be focused solely on raising awareness for Chestnut Ridge Park," McDonald said.

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.