The Ambitious Redesign of Buffalo’s Lasalle Park is Underway

City Park IllustrationIn October 2018, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation announced that it would contribute 100 million dollars to transform Lasalle Park on Buffalo’s Lower West Side into a signature park and create a regional trail system along the nearby waterfront. According to the Buffalo News, this remarkably generous donation constitutes the largest philanthropic gift ever made in Western New York.

Just a few months later in December, Ralph Wilson’s namesake foundation reported that it had selected renowned landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh and his Brooklyn-based design firm to lead the project. Other projects that Van Valkenburgh and his firm have worked on include Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City, Allegheny Riverfront Park in Pittsburgh and the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago’s Jackson Park.

Now, with the help of the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation is inviting community members to participate in a series of meetings where they can view preliminary design concepts and offer feedback to the team at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA).

“This park is obviously an important place for Buffalonians, and there will be significant public engagement and presentation of design ideas for feedback, as well as just talking to people generally about what they hope for,” said Van Valkenburgh in a recent interview. I think we can turn the park into something that is going to be a magnet. We are incredibly pleased to be asked to work on it.”

Based on the input the receive from local community members and civic leaders, MVVA is slated to present a finalized conceptual design with renderings and a physical model in late spring. If all goes according to plan, Western New Yorkers could see Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park begin to take shape by the end of this year.

Enjoy Niagara Falls State Park, Even in the Winter

Penguin ExhibitFeeling a little cooped up after a long winter spent inside? This time of year can be challenging for everyone, but fortunately for the folks at Town Hall Terrace, there are still plenty of indoor activities in our area that we can enjoy all year round.

Take the winter-friendly attractions at Niagara Falls State Park, for example.

You might typically save your trips to the falls for warm summer days, but the park offers several other attractions that are ideal for the cold months of winter, too. At the World Changed Here Pavilion, guests can enjoy an entertaining multimedia experience and learn more about the rich history of Niagara Falls. Take a look back in time to see what the area looked like before it became a state park, and find out how famed inventor Nikola Tesla used the falls to create the world’s first hydroelectric power plant. Nearby, you can also take an up-close look at Niagara Falls on the big screen at the Niagara Adventure Theater.

Once you’re done here, you can hop on the park trolley and take a quick trip over to the Aquarium of Niagara! With more than 30 exhibits including a brand-new penguin habitat, this aquarium is a great place to spend an afternoon this winter.

Of course, if you’re feeling brave you can also swing by the falls themselves on your way out. It might be chilly, but there’s something uniquely beautiful about seeing Niagara Falls shrouded in an ethereal layer of glittering snow and ice.

Spring will be here before we know it. Until then, stay tuned for the latest updates from Town Hall Terrace!

Niagara Falls Could Become Home to World Weather Center

Niagara Falls New YorkThis week, travelers from across the globe are braving the cold to see a partially-frozen Niagara Falls draped in an ethereal layer of ice and snow. The popular tourist destination is well-known for its extreme displays of natural beauty, which could make it an ideal setting for a different type of attraction in the former One Niagara Building.

Earlier this week at a meeting of the Niagara River Greenway Commission, former Niagara County Industrial Development Agency director John Simon pitched a plan to build a World Weather Center in the distinctive cube-shaped building which would offer guests an opportunity to enjoy a variety of “multi-sensory weather-related exhibits and experiences.”

Simon and his fellow organizers proposed the same idea to the Niagara Falls City Council in 2017, where they described a “Disney-quality” attraction that includes entertaining, educational exhibits focused on weather and climate science. In a recent interview with the Niagara Gazette, Simon remarked that “it’s safe to say there’s nothing like it in North America.”

The World Weather Center project would reportedly cost roughly $138 million to complete, but its organizers argue that it would also create jobs and generate several million dollars in tourism revenue in just a few years. The next step, according to Simon, will be to meet with the Empire State Development Corp. and seek state funding to help finance the project.

If the weather center becomes a reality, we could have yet another world-class travel destination to enjoy just a few miles down the road from our cozy community at Town Hall Terrace.

Buffalo Botanical Gardens Receives $1.5 Million for Expansion

ConservatoryLast year in November, officials from the historic Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens announced plans for an ambitious expansion project that calls for the addition of a 36,000-square-foot facility on the southwestern side of the existing conservatory. The expansion, which is valued at an estimated $14 million, will add a number of new amenities including classrooms, a butterfly exhibit, events space and a café.

Now, fundraising efforts for the expansion have taken a major step forward thanks to the contribution of a $1.5 million grant from the Western New York Regional Economic Council.

“We are extremely excited about this,” said Botanical Gardens CEO David Swarts in an interview. “This support indicates that the state clearly believes our project has merit.”

When the botanical gardens conservatory was first completed in 1899, it was one of the largest public greenhouses in the nation. Today, it remains one of the most popular weekend destinations in Western New York. Attendance at the botanical gardens has grown significantly in recent years, but the conservatory has not undergone a major expansion since it was built more than a century ago. According to botanical gardens officials, the new addition will allow the conservatory to accommodate more events like weddings and educational classes.

If you’ve never had an opportunity to visit the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens in the past, consider spending an afternoon in the conservatory one day soon! Located in the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed South Park, the Botanical Gardens is one of the most beloved historical sites in our area.

New York Recognizes Grand Island as a Clean Energy Community

residential solar panelsSince the old Schoelkopf Power Station began harnessing hydroelectric power from the Niagara River way back in 1881, Western New York has earned a reputation for being a regional hub of innovation in the energy sector. More recently, the communities in our area have begun to embrace modern advances in solar power generation as well.

Last year, for example, the Grand Island Town Board unanimously approved plans to build a $7 million solar power plant on an 18-acre plot of land that’s capable of providing electricity for about 400 homes and businesses across the island. Meanwhile, the Solarize Grand Island program is helping to offset installation costs for home and business owners who want to bring solar power to their properties, too.

Thanks to initiatives like these, the Town of Grand Island was recently designated a Clean Energy Community by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

To earn this designation, the Town of Grand Island had to complete at least four of the 10 high-impact clean energy actions listed by NSERDA as part of the Clean Energy Communities initiative. Under the terms of the Clean Energy Communities program, Grand Island is now eligible to apply for funding “of up to $250,000 with no local cost share and the option of receiving up to 25 percent paid in advance to support additional clean energy projects.”

“Solar power is a cost-effective way to preserve our environment and power our community,” said Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray in a statement. “I’m proud to be part of a community that takes this form of energy seriously. Grand Island was one of the first communities in our area to pass a solar law. This summer we had a successful Solarize Grand Island campaign that educated the public about the benefits of renewable energy and resulted in 24 new residential solar installations.”

As a designated Clean Energy Community, Grand Island will now have even more opportunities to improve its renewable energy infrastructure in the future. To learn more about all the things that make Grand Island such a great place to live, feel free to give Town Hall Terrace a call at (716) 773-2788 today!

Celebrate the 7th Annual Light up the Boulevard Fest This Weekend

Christmas Lights in ParkYou might feel like you’re still digesting the last of your Thanksgiving Dinner, but the holiday season festivities are only just beginning! This weekend, you can kick off a month of celebrations at the 7th annual Light up the Boulevard Electric Parade and Festival on Grand Island.

The festivities will begin this Saturday, December 1 at 12:00 pm.

Santa will be greeting children at Town Hall from 2:00 – 4:30 pm, and again from 6:30 – 8:00 pm. Meanwhile, visitors can enjoy watching Holiday movies in the courtroom while they wait to meet Santa. Other festival activities include story time at the Grand Island Library, cookie decorating at Mamma De’s and more.

Following the Rudolf Run at 5:00 pm, attendees can enjoy the event’s main attraction—the Electric Parade and tree lighting ceremony in the town commons! This year, the event’s organizers will be providing a heated tent to keep everyone comfortable in the event of snow and cold weather. Once the parade is over, guests can stick around and continue to enjoy holiday-themed games, food trucks, Arctic golf and other activities in the town commons.

Light up the Boulevard offers a great opportunity for the folks in our area to get in the holiday spirit. This family-friendly event is especially fun for children, so be sure to bring the kids and grandkids along for the ride as well!

Interested in learning more about all there is to see and do on Grand Island? Stay tuned for the latest updates from our blog at Town Hall Terrace!

Grand Island Town Board Pursuing Tree City USA Designation

Planting a TreeOne of the things we love about Grand Island is that it’s home to many acres of pristine forested land. Trees are an important part of our community’s identity, and now town board is considering the adoption a new law that could earn Grand Island a spot in the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program.

Tree City USA, which includes more than 3,400 towns and cities throughout the nation, was established in 1976 to help communities maintain and expand their trees.

Under the terms of the proposed ordinance, property owners who purchase forested parcels of land that are larger than 1.5 acres would be required to apply for a permit from the town before cutting down trees. Such an ordinance is a prerequisite for obtaining a Tree City USA designation for Grand Island. The ordinance would also establish a local subcommittee on trees.

Proponents of the tree ordinance argue that it would be minimally disruptive to local citizens and developers, but potentially very beneficial to the health of Grand Island’s trees in the long run. This is because a Tree City USA designation would allow the town to apply for grant money to help with its dead and dying ash trees. In recent years, the invasive Emerald Ash Borer has taken a serious toll on our area’s ash trees.

“We see this as a kind of step one of getting to be a Tree City USA,” said Jeff Green, chairman of the Conservation Advisory Board during a recent meeting of the town board.

Thanks to the efforts of Green and others on the Conservation Advisory Board, Grand Island could soon have access to the resources it needs to protect its trees for the future.

The West River Road Shoreline Trail is Officially Open

Bike PathFollowing a lengthy and sometimes contentious development process, the 8-mile West River Shoreline Trail welcomed cyclists and pedestrians for the first time during its opening ceremony on Tuesday. The new multi-use trail connects Buckhorn Island State Park to Beaver Island State Park, and is part of larger trail system that stretches all the way from Lackawanna to Lewiston. The trail also offers year-round access to the Niagara River.

 

Local residents who attended the opening ceremony expressed excitement about having a new, safe place to explore the Grand Island riverfront.

“It’s so nice not to have to keep turning around looking for cars,” said cyclist Diane Goupil of Grand Island in an interview with WBFO. “So, now they have the bike path and we can ride on a road specifically for bikes and walking, it’s really nice.”

After five years of development, attendees at the ceremony were eager to get out and enjoy the trail, even on a chilly day in October. Next year, Grand Island residents will have yet another new outdoor destination to enjoy when the Margery Gallogly Nature Sanctuary opens in the fall.

At Town Hall Terrace, we also offer a variety of amenities for residents who want to maintain active, healthy lifestyles. From our fully-equipped fitness center to our tennis courts and heated pool, you can choose from a diverse selection of activities to enjoy. To learn more about these or any of the other amenities you can find at Town Hall Terrace, feel free to give us a call at (716) 773-2788 today!

Travel and Leisure Names Buffalo “America’s Friendliest City”

Buffalo City HallIf you’ve spent much time in Western New York, you may already know that our region is well-known for the warm, friendly demeanor of its citizens. In our community, it’s not uncommon to see people helping their neighbors shovel snow from the latest blizzard or lending a hand with their gardens in the summertime. Buffalo has long been known as the City of Good Neighbors, but it recently earned another unique distinction from the popular Travel and Leisure Magazine.

Based on the results of its annual America’s Favorite Places survey, Travel and Leisure has named Buffalo America’s Friendliest City.

“People smile at each other on the streets,” said one Buffalo resident who responded to the survey. “We talk to strangers all the time and are just overall willing to help each other.”

Even Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas weighed in on the results of the survey in a recent interview.

“I’ve been here since 1988 and it is one of the friendliest cities in America,” said Thomas. “One of the reasons that I love it so much here is that we do so much for charity.”

To celebrate Buffalo’s recognition as the nation’s friendliest city, Thomas teamed up with Cheerios this morning to serve a free breakfast to fans at Fountain Plaza. The city is also commemorating the occasion by making parking meters free for the day and lighting the Peace Bridge yellow in the evening.

Interested in joining the famously friendly community of Western New York? We’d love to have you join us here at Town Hall Terrace! Browse our homes online or give us a call today to learn more!

Margery Gallogly Nature Sanctuary to Open Next Fall

Hiking TrailIt’s official: after more than a year of fundraising efforts, the Western New York Land Conservancy has agreed to purchase a 145-acre parcel of undeveloped land from the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo for $269,000. Located adjacent to the Assumption Cemetery on Grand Island, this land will soon become a sprawling nature preserve where people can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, cross-country skiing and birdwatching. The preserve will also offer public access to both the Big and Little Six Mile Creeks.

Now that the deal has been finalized, the Land Conservancy is in the process of planning where the hiking trails will be built in the spring of 2019. According to the conservancy’s executive director Jajuan Rose-Burney, their first priority will be to minimize the project’s impact on the local ecosystem.

“Let’s make sure we’re not hurting any of the ecology, but let’s also make sure people can really experience some of the things that make the preserve really interesting,” said Rose-Burney in a recent interview.

Meanwhile, Town Supervisor Nate McMurray is excited about the impact the new nature preserve will have on the community of Grand Island.

“You really are starting to see a new vision of what Grand Island is, which is in many ways a green haven between Buffalo and Niagara Falls,” said McMurray.

The Margery Gallogly Nature Sanctuary is expected to be open by fall of 2019, but additional work will continue on the project over the course of the next two years. Here at Town Hall Terrace, we can’t wait to get outside and taking a relaxing hike in the pristine forest of this beautiful woodland retreat.