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New Reading Park to open in downtown Buffalo

Buffalo is getting a new park, one not like most others. It is not done yet and there will not be any basketball or tennis courts. Instead, it is a Reading Park, located right next to the downtown Central Library.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Library officials had hoped to showcase park plans Sunday, but the cold and the rain forced the event inside, bringing several hundred people to listen to music, some speeches, meet some animals, show Halloween costumes and paint some pumpkins. The kids had a good time. Felix was there with his son.

"For my kids, activities, fun things going on, family events," he said. "You've got the petting zoo, painted pumpkins. Got to let the pumpkin dry. So this is for the kids. Get them out of the house and busy, keep them going on weekends for the holiday."

Kathleen Jeffers from Springville's Creative Learning Shows said it is educational for kids.

"We've just had someone ask me if the bunny was a chicken. So we love going into the city because they don't," Jeffers said. "We live out in the country and even some of the kids in the country are like, 'Did you get them in the zoo?' It's like, 'No, they're farm animals.' So they're a lot of kids don't get to see them and that's why we love showing them."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Library Director Mary Jean Jakubowski said the park area right now is some worn grass along to Broadway at Washington Street. Construction will start in the spring, adding protective berms and new grass.

"We'll have outdoor tables and chairs and benches. We've got a stage for entertainment. That's already sitting out there so that people could see what it looked like," she said. "It will have all kinds of trees and foliage, all kinds of great things, just a warm and welcoming comfortable place to bring a book, bring a game, bring your family, come on out and sit in this downtown corridor."

Southwest Airlines and an array of local groups are helping to pick up the tab, along with the City of Buffalo and Erie County.

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.