Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Buffalo Beyond Flowers: Sustainability and Wilkeson Point Park


As part of Garden Walk Buffalo Niagara's Buffalo Beyond Flowers: Sustainability in Action tour, the nearly 30 of us on the bus made a stop at Wilkeson Point Park – one of Buffalo's newest parks along the Lake Erie waterfront.

Dean Gowen, the park's designer,
explains the origin and history
of the landscape.
Landscape Architect Dean Gowen, of Wendel Architecture, met our group and explained the layout of the park, its history, and walked us around to explain some of its features.

The park opened in 2013, adjoining Times Beach Nature Preserve, a long-ago sand beach that is now the site of stored, dredged "materials" from other parts of the Buffalo River rectification process (pretty nasty stuff - don't worry, it's capped under the water by many feet of clay, sediment, and stone).

A former industrial site, the new park was made only after the storage of the Lake Erie ice boom was moved elsewhere along the Buffalo River. With this land freed up, it was carved out for volleyball courts, a gazebo, a fishing pier, a sand beach, bike paths, "natural" playgrounds of boulders and driftwood, a slide (built into a hill), pedestrian bridges, a kayak "roll-in" launch, restrooms, picnicking areas, and these beautiful wind sculptures.

Native plants were installed at the water's edge.
Previously it was edged by boulders and
driftwood.By now there's a mix of natives and
non-natives that they try to control,
but are not militant about it.
Horticulturally, it has many rain gardens, man-made, native-planted hills and berms, and naturalistic "no-mow"areas. An emphasis was obviously trying to make it low on maintenance and high on returning the space closer to its natural state.

The Park's most unique
feature are the
wind sculptures.
The park is only minutes from downtown Buffalo – and a new bike ferry makes it extremely easy to get here. And since it is only a couple minutes from the center of the city, it has great view of both the city skyline from a unique vantage point - and spectacular views of Lake Erie, the Lackawanna wind turbines, and west to Canada were you can watch the sun set.

Dean tells us that it seemed a natural to take advantage of the constant wind in this spot on the lake to install these kinetic wind sculptures. They were designed and fabricated by artist Lyman Whitaker, who has other wind sculptures in Oslo, Denmark, LA, Asheville, Fort Worth and more.

There are large marble architectural remnants in arrangements throughout the park, found on the site, that are from from the original M&T Bank building once at the corner of Main and Swan Streets.

Since my visit, my wife and I have been down here to use the kayak launch. If we ever get back on our bikes for leisure again, we'd like to try the bike ferry and ride along the miles of bike paths along the outer harbor area. Our bike riding over the past few years has been organized bike tours, a barge and bike tour through the Netherlands, and renting bikes in OTHER cities we've visited. It would be nice to discover a whole new area of a city we've been a part of for more than 30 years!

Large arrangements of limestone architectural features are from a demolished bank building in Buffalo that were dumped here years ago.
Downtown Buffalo is really just minutes by car or bike (if you're using the bike ferry).
The park is just a bit before the downtown lighthouse.
Views of Buffalo's famous grain elevators just across the Skyway.

2 comments:

  1. One of my favorite spots to stroll. Did they happen to mention why they put a huge fence between Times Beach and Wilkeson Point? Seems a waste of money.

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    Replies
    1. I didn't notice that, but it would seem to make sense to integrate the two parks fully so they seem like one entity. Probably a function of being under the management of two different groups that don't consider what the public thinks or how they use a park.

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