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Another Voice: Conservancy works to maintain Olmsted’s vision

By Kevin Kelly

Nick Corto’s Nov. 25 Another Voice (“Delaware Park’s potential is not being realized”) merits a thoughtful response. Buffalo is indeed blessed that Frederick Law Olmsted – who created New York’s Central Park – designed the country’s first urban park system right here in Buffalo.

The conservancy, where I serve as chairman of the board, is deeply grateful for the City of Buffalo’s financial and in-kind service support, which makes up about half of our $4 million annual operating budget and has funded approximately 80 percent of our capital projects over the past six years.

Many agree that Olmsted’s Central Park, totaling 843 acres, is often viewed as the “gold standard” for urban public green space. Central Park also has a conservancy with a city partnership, and from generous constituents and thousands of members it raises more than 75 percent of Central Park’s $57 million annual operating budget.

Here in Buffalo 1,600 events take place in our parks annually, which the conservancy derives no income from. Your parks are free, there are no admittance fees, yet the conservancy keeps them clean and healthy. So while we agree that golf courses in the Olmsted parks were not part of his original plan, the 52,000 rounds played in them generate an important portion of our annual revenue.

When people learn I’m an Olmsted volunteer, they immediately say, “The parks have never looked better,” and congratulate us on Delaware Park’s national American Planning Association award. For that, we thank our talented and dedicated staff and volunteers, along with our trusted partner, the City of Buffalo, and many generous donors.

Our Olmsted parks are a regional asset, a cultural attraction, an event center, a playground, a photo setting, a recreation field, a theater stage, a community gathering space, a nature experience … they’re Western New York’s front and back yards.

Become a conservancy member, volunteer, donor or all three. Your support helps us keep Olmsted’s vision alive, enhance Buffalo’s exciting renaissance and exceed our potential as stewards of these irreplaceable treasures.

Stay in touch with Olmsted at www.bfloparks.org and we will continue to enhance and improve our parks for the 2.5 million visits we host each year for people from near – and far.

Kevin Kelly is chairman of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy board of trustees and president of Delaware North Travel Hospitality.