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Plans for LaSalle Park call for more space and a massive playground

lasalle_park_plans.jpg
Mike Desmond/WBFO
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Some area kids and their parents last night had a chance to see a model of what might be built in the heart of a renovated LaSalle Park, what will be known in the future as Ralph C. Wilson Junior Centennial Park.

The new plan expands the park by adding land across the Thruway on Fourth Street. The model of the playground would be much larger with 2.5 acres set in the middle of the park.

"I do like how they're involving the Waterfront. I do like it's exploratory," said Sherri Falck, who was there with her daughter Roza.

"It's not just what you see is what you get. You have to get in there, walk around. I like how they're involving nature."

The park is being redesigned by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and a host of other consultants. Paul Seck is with Van Valkenburgh.

"There will be places where kids can explore and use their imagination and be a little more free range, with still visual sight for parents," Seck said.

"It's really important for kids that live in cities who don't really get the chance to go play in the woods. I think this is supposed to be that experience."

The city of Buffalo will be continue the maintain the new park, though the effort will get a boost from a $10 million endowment from the Wilson Foundation. Buffalo Parks Commissioner Andy Rabb was on hand last night to hear what was being said.

"We are speaking with the designers and talking about durability of not just surfacing materials, but all the materials in the playground. It's not just the surface that takes a beating," Rabb said.

"The materials that playgrounds are made out of have changed and we're having those types of technical conversations with the designers."

Construction is slated for 2023.

"Right now, there are several parking lots that are within LaSalle Park and we are going to take that parking and distribute it throughout," Seck explained.

"You can get exactly to the program you want. So, If you are coming here for baseball or softball, you come up over there to the side and get directly to your softball."