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2018 Parks Master Plan Update



Erie County’s nearly 10,000 acre Park System represents a diverse collection of natural resources, historic structures, and unique places within the Western New York Region. The system is comprised of 40 sites throughout the County, and provides for recreational sports fields, cascading waterfalls, hiking trails, biking pathways, lawns for sitting and relaxing in nature, wildlife observation, and much more at no cost for residents and visitors. 

Previous County Parks Master Plans were completed approximately in 15 year intervals, the last one in 2003. New demands have been placed on the park system not present in 2003 indicating a need for a new look, a new analysis, and a new master plan for the system. The Department of Environment and Planning in cooperation with the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry has undertaken a major update to the 2003 Park Master Plan. This Parks Master Plan Update, which was initiated in 2016, is primarily focused on the preservation, enhancement, and improvement of the existing system assets and landscape setting. Consultants Wendel Companies (a local multi-disciplinary Engineering and Landscape Architecture firm) and GreenPlay (a nationally renowned park and recreation consulting firm) were engaged to tackle this effort, completing the mapping of the system, analyzing problems and opportunities, developing policies to protect and enhance the natural resources of the parks, and developing strategies for waterfront enhancement.

Like the 2003 Plan, which served the County well through its planning horizon, this Update followed certain parameters: the plan must be user friendly, with clear implementation tasks; it must be environmentally sound so as to preserve and enhance our common public open space; and it must be financially feasible, by focusing on improving existing assets and operational efficiencies and opportunities. In the explosion of social media since the 2003 plan, communication with park users has changed in ways that few could have predicted; this Update outlines strategies and specific tasks to improve community awareness and education of the County Parks System and all it has to offer.

project goals

Recommendations and analyses were conducted based on extensive outreach and assessment of the County Parks System. The planning process consisted of public consultation, stakeholder meetings with over 65 local groups and agencies, a parks user survey, numerous meetings, and work sessions. A final 60-day public comment process was held in the Fall of 2018 with an online comment form and 3 public open houses, garnering another 100 comments that were submitted in person, by mail, and online regarding the draft plan (results summarized in Volume 1; more information in the Appendices below). Physical assessment and mapping included inventory of all notable assets within the County’s heritage parks, and many site visits during different times of the year. 

The Erie County Legislature accepted the Erie County Parks Master Plan Update as the primary County planning document within Erie County on matters affecting the Erie County Parks System, and simultaneously commited to undertake actions affecting physical development in the County Parks System in a manner that is consistent with the principles, policies, and action strategies described in the Plan.

The Master Plan Update will be a guide for the County, planners, and administrators to focus on future development of the system. It will inform the County on how to prioritize resources and guide decisions for renovating structures, improving existing amenities, and restoring environmental habitats. Principles guiding project prioritization are rooted in public safety, environmental sustainability, and historic preservation.

Parks Master Plan Update FINAL Plan


Executive Summary

Table of Contents

Volume 1 - Overall System Master Plan

Volume 2 - Park Specific Recommendations

Individual section downloads of Volume 2:

Heritage Parks

Waterfront Parks

Special Purpose Parks

Conservation Parks

Forestry Lots 

Volume 3 - Waterfront Access & Trails

Volume 4 - Parks Inventory & Assessment


*Please note that the Erie County Parks Master Plan Update involves only Erie County owned/managed parks and trails. State, city, town, or village park issues should be referred to their individual governing body.

The following are Erie County parks and trails (any other parks or trails are not Erie County's):

Akron Falls Town of Newstead/Village of Akron
Bailey Peninsula City of Buffalo
Bennett Beach Town of Evans
Black Rock Canal City of Buffalo
Boston Forest Town of Boston
Botanical Gardens City of Buffalo
Chestnut Ridge Town of Orchard Park
Como Lake Town/Village of Lancaster
Eighteen Mile Creek Town of Hamburg
Ellicott Creek Town of Tonawanda
Elma Meadows Town of Elma
Emery Town of Aurora
Franklin Gulf Town of Eden/Town of North Collins
Grover Cleveland City of Buffalo
Headwaters Town of Concord
Hunters Creek Town of Wales
Isle View Town of Tonawanda
Lakeview Pocket Preserve Town of Evans
Red Jacket City of Buffalo
Scoby Dam Town of Concord
Seneca Bluffs City of Buffalo
Shoreline Trail - Beaches Town of Evans
Shoreline Trail - Riverwalk City, Town of Tonawanda/ City of Buffalo
Sprague Brook Town of Concord/Town of Sardinia
Times Beach City of Buffalo
Tow Path City of Buffalo
Wendt Beach Town of Evans
Forest Lot #1 Town of Sardinia
Forest Lot #2 Town of Sardinia
Forest Lot #3 Town of Sardinia
Forest Lot #4 Town of Holland
Forest Lot #5 Town of Holland
Forest Lot #6 Town of Holland
Forest Lot #7 Town of Holland
Forest Lot #8 Town of Concord
Forest Lot #9 Town of Concord
Forest Lot #11 Town of Sardinia
Forest Lot #12 Town of Sardinia
Forest Lot #13 Town of Concord