By Stephanie Crockatt and Sean M. Ryan
Advocacy is a complicated art, requiring that you ignore all the reasons why it won’t be successful and trust in the major reason why it will. Risks for what’s important require great fortitude and energy. As with many nonprofits, advocacy is the primary principle on which the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy was founded. Goal identification, education, communication and consensus are key campaign actions. Together, this is how we advocated for the 198, and it is how we will move forward.
Since 1978, the Conservancy’s core mission remains vital today, evidenced with its call to suspend the DOT’s plan for the Scajaquada 198 as nearly three miles cut through the notable Olmsted landscape. Together, as the advocacy organization for our historic park system, and an elected official, we were joined by more than 5,500 impassioned supporters from the community; neighbors, businesses and organizations. On Jan. 8, 2018, NYSDOT pushed the reset button; a decision loudly applauded by a majority. We sincerely thank NYSDOT for responding with action. The community has been heard, and we are deeply grateful to so many who were instrumental in advancing this campaign, and all who took the time to become informed and empowered on this important advocacy issue and legacy opportunity.
The NYSDOT has delivered a new process to the community. All stakeholders are committed to embracing this new opportunity and turning the community’s vision into reality. Moving forward, we are focused on reuniting Delaware Park, reconnecting neighborhoods and linking cultural assets, respecting the environment and developing a roadway that is sensitive and appropriate to the park, in restoring Olmsted’s vision.
The momentum of this campaign has raised new levels of awareness and interest. Stakeholders struck with apathy over an arduous 15 years of debate have been revived into the conversation. With this revival, stakeholders are excited by the opportunity to address the entire corridor, including the connection east to Main Street, the Kensington and Olmsted’s MLK Jr. Park, and west to the I-190.
Next steps are crucial. As primary advocates for a better road, the Conservancy remains unyielding in its quest to work with NYSDOT in its redesign. The scope, purpose and vision for this road can now be redefined to serve more than a speed limit or traffic volume, but to construct an inclusive and innovative roadway which we can all use efficiently and proudly. Together, collaboratively, we can correct a 60-year mistake and restore access, healthy living and socioeconomic benefit to the entire Scajaquada corridor.
Buffalo has been given the chance of a generation. And as everyone comes to recognize 2018 with 150 years of Olmsted in Buffalo, the Conservancy, our community and partners have much to celebrate. Together, we are making a positive difference.
Stephanie Crockatt is executive director of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy. Sean M. Ryan represents the 149th District of the New York State Assembly.