Mayor Announces Major Plan to Transform Martin Luther King Jr. Park Neighborhood

January 26, 2012 Updated Jan 26, 2012 at 5:16 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Mayor Announces Major Plan to Transform Martin Luther King Jr. Park Neighborhood

January 26, 2012 Updated Jan 26, 2012 at 5:16 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- The redevelopment of a one-mile stretch of Fillmore Avenue will be instrumental in the revitalization of the Martin Luther King Park, Jr. Park neighborhood. 

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, along with Department of Public Works Commissioner Steve Stepniak, and Edward Watts, President of Watts Engineering, announced on Thursday the beginning of a $1.35 million Fillmore Avenue streetscape improvement project, designed to turn Fillmore Avenue into a thriving commercial corridor. 

“A strong and stable streetscape is important to the image of any neighborhood,” Brown said in a news release, noting that city crews planned to demolish nine vacant buildings as part of the redevelopment. “By reinvigorating this community, we are setting the groundwork to attract new residents and new business owners, who want to live, work and invest in Buffalo.”

Since 2006, the city has spent $1.5 million on 115 demolitions in the MLK Park neighborhood.

Fillmore Avenue serves as the Gateway to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, a symbol of King’s dream, and a place that brings people together. The Fillmore Avenue infrastructure effort includes road repaving, new sidewalks, bike lanes, decorative lighting, new trees and benches. This project will also improve pedestrian and vehicular safety with the installation of a new street lighting system and enhanced cross walks.

“Fillmore Avenue has the potential to become one of the most important commercial corridors," Brown said. "If the corridor is attractive and vibrant, people will believe the neighborhood is attractive and vibrant as well.”

An additional $900,000 in roadway improvements will also begin along a stretch of Humboldt Parkway, once the city’s grandest street, an integral part of the Buffalo Park’s System.  All of these improvements are designed to complement the ongoing construction of the $4.5 million Splash Pad and Surrounding Basin at Martin Luther King Jr. Park.  When completed this summer, the newly renovated “splash pad” will switch between a splash pad, reflecting pool and ice rink, depending on the season.

“The new Splash Pad at Martin Luther King Jr. Park is going to be a major attraction for years to come,” Brown said.

This neighborhood revitalization is part of Mayor Brown’s place-based community economic development strategy.  Since 2006, the city has invested over $10 million in this area:

$1.35 million Fillmore Streetscape (to be completed Spring 2013)

$900,000 Humboldt Parkway Improvements (to be completed Spring 2013)

$800,00 MLK Park Shelter House (to be completed next month)
$4.5 million MLK Splash Pad-Reflecting Pond (to be completed June 2012)

$500,000 Road re-pavement in the MLK Park neighborhood (2006-2011)               

$700,000 Traffic Signal Replacement Project – Fillmore Avenue (2008)

$1.5 million in demolitions (2006-2012)

The attention to the MLK Park neighborhood is also designed to complement the ‘Better Schools/Better Neighborhoods Collaborative, a consortium of stakeholders that are seeking to turn this struggling neighborhood into a vibrant and socially functional community. By reinvigorating this neighborhood, Mayor Brown hopes to set the groundwork to attract new residents and new business owners who want to live, work, and invest in Buffalo.