Blasdell, N.Y. (WBEN) - New York State Assemblyman Jon Rivera was in Blasdell on Wednesday, along with Town of Hamburg Supervisor Randy Hoak to announce a total of $350,000 in funding for the Penn Dixie Fossil Park and Nature Preserve.
The funding received by the park will go towards building a new pavilion and picnic area for programming.
The $350,000 to the Penn Dixie Fossil Park is made up of $250,000 coming with help from New York State, and the other $100,000 comes from the Town of Hamburg via the American Rescue Plan Act.
"As long as I've been here in the State Assembly, I've been able to find so many gems in Western New York that a lot of folks maybe might not know about. This is one of them, possibly the biggest gem," said Assemblyman Rivera on Wednesday. "We are now standing in this amazing facility that, truthfully, is world-renowned, but sometimes people have had difficulty getting here, or not really finding out where it is. Present company included, I didn't know about this beautiful place until I brought my daughter here, and we had an amazing time."
This funding is specific to Phase 1 of Penn Dixie’s expansive capital project, which will include:
- An improved entrance and better accessibility for guests.
- A new check-in pavilion that will also be used for programming.
- Infrastructure upgrades that will add trail connections.
- Improved restroom facilities.
While the park has existed for nearly 30 years and has exploded in popularity through the last decade, it has done so with few amenities. There are only a few volunteer-built picnic pavilions, paved trails and portable toilets on the premises. The narrow access road doesn’t meet the capacity needs for the park, and it often doesn’t even show up on Apple Maps.
The disparity between the park’s upsurge in recognition and its inadequate facilities is the main incentive behind the current capital project and its fundraising goal, as Penn Dixie seeks to become a cultural destination within Western New York.
"Just like a lot of other places in Western New York, it was in need of investment, and it's still in need of investment," Assemblyman Rivera said. "That's why it's been an honor to serve in this way, in the State Assembly, in that I've been able to find places that simply just need more attention, need more investment, and been able to be as helpful as I could be in those spaces."
Hear more from Wednesday's announcement for the Penn Dixie Fossil Park in the player below: