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Nicklaus firm talks Delaware Park

Civic activist Kevin Gaughan met for a second time Wednesday with the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, but this time with three Nicklaus Companies executives and an Olmsted parks scholar in tow.

Gaughan has proposed a plan in which golf legend Jack Nicklaus would enhance the Delaware Park course while shrinking the footprint to return more of the meadow to general park use.

The plan also calls for restoring the arboreum in South Park, and building a new golf course on land near the park.

“First and foremost, we wanted the Conservancy to understand that in many ways we are likeminded in our goals, and that if this is something of great interest to them, that Jack and our company are there to provide the support, leadership and resources to get this accomplished,” said John Reese, chief executive officer of Nicklaus Companies, headquartered in North Palm Beach, Fla.

“They were very gracious to our group, appeared quite interested in our thoughts and offered excellent questions and feedback.”

On Tuesday, the group – which included vice presidents Scott Tolley and Ray Ball of the global golf course design company, and Olmsted expert Francis Kowsky – also toured South Park, the potential golf course site near South Park, and Delaware Park.

“Jack believes we have the opportunity to enhance and honor Olmsted’s legacy by restoring portions of the meadow in Delaware and returning the arboretum in South Park. In doing so, he wants to be able to enhance the golf experience at Delaware Park, and explore designing a world-class Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course on land near South Park,” Reese said.

“The goal would be to design a course that is both a source of affordable recreation and source of community pride for Buffalonians, but also a source of revenue by attracting tourists and golfers from around the state, country, if not the world.”

Gaughan said he felt the meeting was valuable, and plans to speak to the conservancy’s full board of trustees on Sept. 29.

“The trustees and I discussed specific ways that we might collaborate, along with the city of Buffalo, to obtain the necessary funds to engage Nicklaus Companies to perform the golf course work, and as well restore Olmsted’s arboretum in South Park,” Gaughan said, reiterating that the project will be done entirely with private funds.

Gaughan said Nicklaus Companies has agreed to offer its services at cost, which he said was about 30 percent of its standard fee.

“This is a civic project to benefit Buffalo, and its residents,” Gaughan said. “That kindness will result in millions of dollars of savings in our project budget.”


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