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Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park in Buffalo receives $1M gift

The gift will go toward supporting the dog park and entry garden.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announced a gift of $1 million that will go toward the future Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park in Buffalo.

The gift came from the trusts of Mr. Wilson's late daughters, Edith "Dee Dee" Wilson and Linda Bogdan.

“Ralph’s daughters held a very special place in his heart, and each bonded with him over their shared passions – which of course included the Buffalo Bills," said Mary Wilson, life trustee and board chair, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. " Dee Dee and Linda also loved to play tennis, spend time outdoors, and enjoyed gardening. When identifying how to allocate this generous gift from their estate, we knew it would be most appropriate to honor these passions in a way that will live on through the park, along with sustaining these spaces and investing in future programing that community members can enjoy."

The foundation granted the $1 million gift to the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, which will build upon the Foundation's support of the community engagement and transformation of LaSalle Park into the future Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park.

The grant will support two distinct elements, specifically the dog park and entry garden:

  • Dog Park: The “Barkyard” is the first official off-leash dog park in the city and attracts thousands of visitors each year. Throughout the Imagine LaSalle Initiative, the community and “Barkyard” users have been very engaged in the process and have welcomed the suggested design improvements. The design, created by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), proposes relocating the “Barkyard” and improving it by adding topography to create interest for dogs and their humans, incorporating a mixture of materials such as gravel and lawn, and adding ADA-accessible paths, benches, drinking fountains with dog bowls, and plantings for shade and comfort. Staff will work with partners for naming/recognition at this new dog park to recognize the generous gift on behalf of Edith and Linda.
  • Entry Garden: When parkgoers walk across the new, iconic pedestrian bridge over the I-190 designed by Schlaich Bergermann Partner, they will be met with an incredible view of Lake Erie and a beautiful garden designed by MVVA where the walking and biking paths come together. This place will provide a special moment in the park where park users can reflect.

“As the City of Buffalo and Imagine LaSalle project partners work to fund all of the components and sustainability for the parks’ master plan, we’re excited that through the Wilson family’s continued legacy of giving we can provide this additional support to help move closer towards fully realizing the community’s incredible vision for the park,” said David Egner, president & CEO, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.