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Gaughan asks Conservancy to team up on Nicklaus plan

Join me.

That's the message Kevin Gaughan sent this week to leaders of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and to David Colligan, a former chairman.

Gaughan has been pitching a $42 million plan with golf legend Jack Nicklaus to create two Nicklaus-designed golf courses in South Park and Delaware Park.

The plan also calls for restoring Frederick Law Olmsted's arboretum in South Park, returning some of Delaware Park's Meadow for passive recreation and establishing a vocational training center for city youth.

"I'm making this gesture because we're running out of time," Gaughan said. "I feel strongly that the public amenities in my plan will have a lasting effect on Buffalo's quality of life, but I need the conservancy's and Mr. Colligan's full commitment to make this happen."

Gaughan's letter asked for a meeting with Dennis Horrigan, the conservancy's chairman, and Colligan, who is developing a plan with Conservancy trustee Richard Griffin to restore the South Park arboretum. The golf course would be retained under their plan, but with the expectation it could move at a later time, setting the stage for additional phases of restoration to be completed. He asked Colligan and Griffin to work with him on his plan to move the golf course out of South Park.

Olmsted Conservancy backs Nicklaus-designed golf courses

Gaughan also invited Horrigan, Colligan and Mayor Byron W. Brown to meet with Nicklaus in Florida. Nicklaus Design has offered to redesign both golf courses at cost.

The conservancy gave Gaughan's plan conditional support in December, but said at the time it wouldn't support raising local funding out of concern that local philanthropies were already financially stretched. There was also a concern that funds raised for the project could take away from money needed for park operations.

But Gaughan said national funders want evidence of local support before providing financial support.

"If we all work together, my firm belief is that we'll quickly obtain necessary funds to achieve two goals toward which the conservancy and Mr. Colligan have long strived: improve and reduce in size the Delaware golf course and fully rehabilitate Olmsted's magnificent South Park 'tree museum," wrote Gaughan.

His plan was endorsed in the past month by the National Association for Olmsted Parks.

Horrigan said there are still unanswered questions about Gaughan's plan, but he was willing to meet.

"We need to sit down and look at a realistic business plan and the amount of local support that his contributors are looking for Western New York to raise," Horrigan said. "That would help the discussion. Then we would we have to take that and discuss it with the mayor and the community."

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