By Anne Harding Joyce
As a former chairwoman of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, I would like to address the recent flurry of comments regarding Kevin Gaughan’s plans to redevelop the Delaware Park Golf Course, relocate the golf course in South Park and restore the South Park Arboretum.
I do not speak for the conservancy but as someone who is passionate about restoring the integrity of Frederick Law Olmsted’s magnificent landscapes.
As a member of the Long-Range Planning Committee of the conservancy, I was present at the meeting with Gaughan and the representatives of Nicklaus Golf last fall. Everyone present was cautiously optimistic about the possibilities – they are all pieces of the conservancy’s master plan.
The members of the conservancy board of trustees, cautiously as they should, agreed to continue discussions with Gaughan and Nicklaus Golf. To my knowledge, there has been virtually no direct contact from Gaughan with the conservancy administration regarding future conversations.
At that meeting last fall, Gaughan was informed by the conservancy that there was absolutely no money – zero – available for it to pursue this project and that the conservancy was not in a financial position to jeopardize the current local funding streams that allow it to do its primary job – maintain and protect Buffalo’s Olmsted Parks and Parkways.
Gaughan unequivocally stated that he would raise the entire amount needed to complete the project from sources outside of Western New York.
It appears that Gaughan has begun a public campaign to make it look as if the conservancy has stalled the development of these projects by refusing to identify local funding sources. This is absurd.
I would suggest that Gaughan show the conservancy his financial commitments and then perhaps the conservancy would have more confidence that he is holding up his end of the original conversation.
Two passionate advocates of the parks, David Colligan and Richard Griffin, have formed a subcommittee (I sit on that committee) and used their own money and private donations to hire a consultant to look at all of the options for South Park – including restoring the arboretum with and without the golf course.
They have spent countless hours holding public input meetings, identifying possible specimen collections and what it would take to make South Park a world-renowned arboretum – because they care. They are not in this for the money or the prestige – but simply because it is the right thing to do.
I sincerely hope that Gaughan can say the same thing – that he is in this because it is the right thing to do for our community and for our beautiful, historic Olmsted Parks – not for the public acclaim.
Anne Harding Joyce is former chairwoman of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.