On Wednesday, October 17, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation announced an historic $50 million investment in the trails network of Western New York as part of a larger $100 million dedicated to improving parks and trails in the area. The Foundation also announced $100 million for similar investments in Southeast Michigan.
The $50 million in trail funding for Western New York has not yet been allocated to specific projects, but $40 million will be used to advance projects that close physical gaps in the trail network, and the remaining $10 million will be used to help operate and maintain the trails for the decades to come. This funding is in addition to a previously announced $6.5 million grant from the Wilson Foundation for the completion of the Shoreline Trail from Buffalo to Niagara Falls and the addition of trail amenities, including gateways, signage, kiosks and bike racks.
Additionally, the investment will allow for the rejuvenation of one signature park in each city. LaSalle Park in Buffalo and West Riverfront Park in Detroit will each be renamed the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park. For both locations, the Foundation is committing $40 million for construction activity and $10 million to support the broader efforts for long-term sustainability.
“Through the years, there have been many organizations and funders who’ve worked hard to develop these parks, trails and waterfronts in both Southeast Michigan and Western New York. We’re honored to join with them in the continuation and acceleration of that work,” said David Egner, president and CEO, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “The signature parks mirror each other in many ways, with both situated at the ‘front door’ to each city and region along an urban waterfront and international border. Each park also serves as an anchor to a larger, more robust and burgeoning regional greenway system, connecting to other parks and neighborhoods, encouraging access for all.”
“Parks and trails have an amazing, unparalleled power to rejuvenate communities, and I thank the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation for their extraordinary gift in further enhancing these parks and public spaces,” said New York State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey.
We look forward to seeing what great projects will be added to Western New York’s trail network with this additional funding!