An $11.3 million road reconstruction project to transform Ohio Street has forced the Valley Community Association to cancel tonight’s free waterfront concert, which had been scheduled for River Fest Park.
The extensive construction will transform the once-battered, industrial Ohio Street between Michigan Avenue and Route 5/Fuhrmann Boulevard into a tree-lined boulevard.
But as Margaret “Peg” Overdorf, executive director of the Valley Community Association, drove her car carefully down the now-excavated street, made of packed gravel and mud, she noted that it sits a foot or more below the level of the manicured lawn of River Fest Park.
Worried about the uneven footing for concert-goers, Overdorf has canceled the first concert of the year, a performance by the country band West of the Mark.
The construction situation around River Fest Park changes daily, Overdorf said. “They are buzzing around like bees here,” she said as work crews dug in.
The second concert in the series, a performance next Wednesday by the classic rock and pop group Crash Cadillac, will be held in Mutual Riverfront Park on Hamburg Street. The concert will run from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.
But Overdorf is already looking down the road to the River Fest Park’s big event of the year, the Buffalo River Fest, set for June 13, 14 and 15. The festival is being moved to the landlocked Father Conway Park at Ohio and Louisiana streets, which lies between River Fest Park and Mutual Riverfront Park.
Buffalo River Fest was held in Father Conway Park for 10 years before being moved to the more appropriate spot on the Buffalo River.
Besides the actual reconstruction of Ohio Street, several old properties on or near the street are being transformed. Overdorf pointed out work by the Seneca Nation to remove the old concrete loading docks that once served Boss-Linco Lines trucking on Chicago Street. Across the way, crews are tearing down the old block building that was once Sam’s Petro USA truck stop and motel at the corner of Ohio Street, on property owned by Carl Paladino.
The Wednesday concerts will continue through Aug. 27, with the locations to be announced.