Pine Woods Park
Pine Woods Park
In 1912, wild areas of North Tonawanda are disappearing fast as land is converted to residential or industrial use. Citizens realize if they don’t put aside land for a public park of some scale, it may soon be too late.
Sweeney Park, although privately owned, is already being used by the public for picnics and gatherings, and so seems a natural choice. But other sites are under consideration.
One is Payne Hill, bounded by Payne, Wheatfield, and the railroad. It has been a popular sledding site since time immemorial, but its owners are rumored to be planning to sell lots privately. Another often-suggested site is along Tonawanda Creek. Skeptics point out that the canal's importance to commerce and industry makes the environs unsuitable for a park.
In 1915, rumors swirl that a certain unnamed “syndicate” has plans to carve Sweeney Park up into residential lots. The Tonawanda News warns that if the city does not act fast, “Sweeney Park as a breathing spot would soon be a thing of the past.” Finally a plan is put forward to preserve the park for its citizens: the taxpayers will have to subscribe to $85,000 in bonds, to be repaid over seventeen years. A special vote will be held at the City Market on Robinson on July 26, 1917.
The Tonawanda News predicts a landslide 4-1 victory for the park plan. The proposed park's location in the center of the city, away from more established neighborhoods, does not seem to be a problem for voters. Gratwick merchant J. C. Kinzly states, "The people of Gratwick have never stood in the way of the progress of the City of North Tonawanda simply because that improvement was not to take place in Gratwick." Martinsville is on board. The Women's Civic Club enjoins Brontëesquely—and presciently:
From lumber men and college students come the same expression, that it would be a crime to allow those trees to be cut down in order to make room for buildings. The call of the wild in each of us makes any reasonable price seem small which is necessary for the preservation of this tract of woodland.The plan passes the special vote by a 2-1 margin, and thus is secured our "breathing spot," and our inalienable access to Frisbee golf.