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Upgrades coming to to MLK Park's cottage garden

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Francesca Bond
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Tucked away behind the Buffalo Museum of Science on Buffalo’s East Side is a quaint cottage garden in need of attention. State Senator Tim Kennedy, whose district contains about half of Buffalo's Olmsted parks, has secured $110,000 in state funding for the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy to repair the garden landscape.Improvements include a new irrigation system, (“They’re very thirsty,” Olmsted Parks Conservancy Executive Director Stephanie Crockatt said about the plants) added lighting, stone masonry restoration, new benches and more low-maintenance foliage and plants.

“It also enhances the entire community,” Kennedy said in a press conference at the park Thursday. “It brings up property values, it helps to ensure the quality of life, not only for the folks on Buffalo’s East Side but throughout Buffalo and throughout Western New York, to take advantage of this historic park system [and] the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted.”

MLK Park’s 50 acres are home to amenities like splash pads, playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts as well as one of the largest wading pools in the country. Recreational programs and community events, like jazz festivals, attract sizable crowds regularly.

Masten district council member Ulysees Wingo calls the garden a “wonderful secret.” Wingo stressed the importance in everyone -- patrons, included -- working together to keep the parks beautiful.

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Credit Francesca Bond
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“Continue to respect our park so it can continue to be a great asset to our community,” Wingo said.

Crockatt said she considers the park, designed by Olmsted and Calvert Vaux 150 years ago, a priority for the parks system.

"This beautiful park was one of the original three Olmsted parks that were designed," Crockatt said. "MLK Park remains, today, one of the prizes of the system and this park is a priority for our care.”

Last month, $90,000 in state funding was secured for renovations at South Buffalo’s Cazenovia Park to fix pathways, pedestrian signage and enhancing the Abbott Road entrance.

“Investing in our parks not only spurs new development and increases property values, but also provides a vital recreational component for healthy living,” Kennedy said.