Gluck Park: Civics Over Politics By Seth Piccirillo

Gluck Park: Civics Over Politics

Guestview by Seth Piccirillo

Niagara Falls Community Development and the City of Niagara Falls welcome any and every one to help install the new Gluck Park Playground, on Friday, October 20 and Saturday, October 21, 2017, 8 am to noon on both days. Gluck Park is located at the corner of 16th Street and Weston Avenue, Niagara Falls, New York. Regardless of your installation experience, there will be ways to help. Even if you cannot help physically, and are just looking to be a part of something, you should still come to Gluck Park. We will be happy to have you there.

We are at a disorienting moment of the American experience. I do not possess more eloquent phrasing, though I wish that I did. Our collective disagreements are more frequent and purposefully hurtful. Our politics are more frantic and less researched. We are saying more than ever, on virtual walls and feeds, but not actually talking to each other. We are just creating partisan static. The differences that divide us seem to be disproportionally outgrowing the ties that bind us. We need to get out of this moment because it’s toxic. Traditional leaders will not be enough to get us to the other side. Some have found value in triggering chaos. As communities, we need to figure this one out on our own, and quickly.

So, let’s build a playground at Gluck Park. Let’s put it together, as a community. Let’s build. We know it will not cure the world’s problems. We are not naïve. But, this is a chance for us to add real value to one of our neighborhoods. Instead of just reacting to the day’s events, tweet or piece of news, (real or fake), let’s be proactive. We can all agree that Niagara Falls kids deserve high quality places to play in their neighborhoods and that a good city park can improve quality of life. There is an ingrained commonality when it comes to the care and well-being on our children. Let’s start there, with baby steps, if need be.   

Earlier this year, a young lady named Maria went to her City Hall, attended a Niagara Falls City Council Meeting, and advocated for new swings at Gluck Park. She lives nearby, saw something in her neighborhood that needed improvement and used her voice to make a change. We were then able to locate United States Department of Housing and Urban Development grant funds that fit the project, including more than just a swing set. The Mayor, City Council, Departments of Public Works, Engineering, Police, Fire and the Community Development Team are all working together to enact Maria’s idea. Volunteer groups are signing up to be a part of the effort. The process is working.  In a year that everyone has an opinion or a reaction, this young lady taught us a needed lesson: our civics can still be stronger and more powerful than our politics.

Our problems will not cease after Gluck Park Community Build Days. We will still be living in tenuous times on October 22, 2017. However, we will be able to point to the playground at 16th Street and Weston Avenue as proof that Niagara Falls can stand shoulder to shoulder, and create. Then, we can pick our next community endeavor, together.  

Seth Piccirillo is the Director of the Niagara Falls Community Development Department and a proud resident of Niagara Falls