WILSON – An attractive new wooden structure will be dedicated at 2 p.m. Monday at the front of Calvin E. Krueger Park, serving as a welcome center on two important fronts.
Residents involved in its creation hope it acts as a point of entry to the village, while village officials also hope it sparks change to make the park at 350 Ontario St. (Route 18) – largely known for its four baseball diamonds – more attractive for all ages and many uses.
The Amish-built structure, reminiscent of old train depots, contains two benches and offers a respite along the Seaway Trial with a gorgeous view of Lake Ontario. (Ontario Street becomes Lake Road outside of the village).
The welcome center was the result of a partnership between the community organization “Watch Wilson Grow” and the Village of Wilson. Watch Wilson Grow procured a $2,750 matching grant from the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission for the project and then more than matched it. The village added in-kind services.
“Keith Dixon, who is superintendent of our public works department, and I had been talking about dressing up Krueger Park and making it about more than just baseball,” said Bernard “Bernie” Leiker, acting mayor of the Village of Wilson. “The purpose of that park, when the land was given to us by the family of Calvin E. Krueger, was to make it a multipurpose park.
“We wanted something that would draw people into the village,” Leiker added. “We placed benches in it to give people a place to sit, and it is lit up inside at night.
“We invite people to sit and relax here,” he said. “In fact, I took a walk there with my dogs after it was finished and a couple from Grand Island was sitting there, admiring it. They told me they had taken the Seaway Trail from Buffalo to Rochester and turned around and came back along the same route and that this was the most beautiful spot on the Seaway Trail. I felt pretty good about that. This is a showpiece.”
The train motif of the structure is a nod to the importance of the railroad in Wilson a century ago. The recently opened Woodcock Brothers Brewing Company on the south side of the village capitalized on the same theme in the renovation of its new home in the 100-year-old former Cold Storage building.
Amish carpenter Norm Hershberger, of Lyndonville, completed the new welcome center structure in Krueger Park in late summer.
Future plans call for a kiosk for fliers and a bulletin board to inform visitors of upcoming community events, said Colleen Leiker, the mayor’s wife and a member of Watch Wilson Grow.
“Watch Wilson Grow partners with the village on projects, and the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission likes these legacy-type projects. For example, in the past two years, the commission has given us money to re-leaf Wilson and we’ve been able to plant more than 120 new trees," she said.
Jean “Jingles” Kerwin, also of Watch Wilson Grow, said, “I’m very proud of this. It’s absolutely beautiful and really a showpiece.”
Leiker said future plans for Krueger Park include the addition of a dog park in the spring; the addition of another structure similar to the welcome center – but this one enclosed, with restrooms; and the refurbishing of the exterior of the Department of Public Works building to help it blend in with these new structures.
Kerwin added that her group hopes to help bring the park’s picnicking areas “up to date.”
“I think that will be our project for next year,” she said. “And, we work in partnership with the village.”