The Birth Of A West Side Modernist Park
There is a section of the cityâ€™s West Side that is about to undergo a major transformation. A relatively inactive plot of land bounded by 18th Street and Rhode Island will be totally refashioned into a modernist public park. The two-year project is the manifestation of a West Side group of activists who are about to realize countless hours of work. For Brad Wales, studio instructor of the Small Built Works program at University at Buffalo, this 6000 sq.â€™ park will emphasize a symbiotic relationship with neighboring Urban Roots. He refers to the project as an attempt to bring the whole block together as a Center for Landscape Design in the city. UB seniors and graduate students will continue to work side by side with the neighborhood until the park has reached completion by yearâ€™s end.
Community activists have been working in cooperation with the Urban Roots Community Garden Center, ceramicist Nancy Gabriel, and Cynnie Gaasch who helped to obtain a New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) grant, instrumental in making 100 colorfully designed tiles created by community members (mostly children). Councilmember Nick Bonifacio was instrumental in securing a $10,000 grant, which means that Phase 1 of building the park project will most likely kick off in March of this year.
Details of the modern park will include an exposed aggregate concrete 6â€™ tall fence that will feature built-in deterrents to prevent people from scaling it. The turreted wall will be lit with recessed strip lighting while offering plenty of viewing from one side to the other. Beyond the wall Urban Roots is planning on acquiring two additional lots where their outdoor nursery will be extended. Moveable sections within the wall will ensure flow of people and utility vehicles. Vertical cutouts will create an open relationship between the park and Urban Roots. The gardening cooperative will also be an asset when it comes to park maintenance and security. Linear paths will be alternate grades creating walking paths and depth. The existing trees will be incorporated into the design while clusters of cement will be used to create distinct walkways through the modern park design. Built-in benches and flower containers will be featured seamlessly into the layout.
The projectâ€™s sponsoring entity is the West Side Greening Collaborative, a subgroup of the West Side Community Collaborative. Other participants and supporters like Mike Brundidge, a neighborhood leader on 18th Street, are making it possible for community activists to get their jobs done. â€śAll of these groups are coming together,â€ť Harvey told me. â€śAnd this part of the West Side is taking on an entirely new look and feel.â€ť