The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and civic advocate Kevin Gaughan have reached a “framework of cooperation” on his plan for a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course adjacent to South Park and a refurbished course at Delaware Park.
The nonbinding memorandum of understanding suggests the arms-length approach taken by the conservancy toward the project is not yet an embrace, but it could become one.
“Much has been written and discussed about the prospect of golf in and near the Olmsted landscapes,” said Stephanie Crockatt, the conservancy’s executive director, in a statement. ”And while no one disputes the grander vision for these ideas, with this MOU public and private expectations can be better managed, and we can begin to review detailed data, analytics and business plans in considering if and how the city and its Olmsted parks could benefit.”
Gaughan first approached the conservancy about the plan in 2014. The plan also calls for a vocational center to teach golf course-related skills to city youth.
“With this memorandum comes great opportunity to create new public amenities for Buffalo and to help lift its underserved youth,” Gaughan said in a statement. “The MOU is an essential step toward the success of our plan, and I’m pleased to collaborate with the conservancy to help make that plan a reality.”
The agreement that Gaughan has sought allows Nicklaus Olmsted Buffalo, the not-for-profit headed by Gaughan, to pursue local fundraising with the conservancy’s backing and in a way intended to eliminate donor confusion about the two groups.
Jack Nicklaus signs the shirt of Danny Mendez, a golfer in Delaware Park, during Nicklaus’ tour on Sept. 17, 2018. (Robert Kirkham/News file photo)
Gaughan has said showing Buffalo’s support for the project is critical in order to attract donors from outside the region.
The agreement spells out several ways in which the conservancy and Nicklaus Olmsted Buffalo will pursue their respective missions.
The agreement clarifies the roles and responsibilities of each organization. Speaking publicly as one voice is part of the agreement. It also acknowledges that decisions on what occurs in Olmsted parks rests solely with the conservancy and the City of Buffalo.
Nicklaus Olmsted Buffalo is also responsible for paying for studies, design work and obtaining public input that will be presented to the conservancy and the city for their consideration.
The project now has a cost of $32 million, about 25 percent less than an earlier estimate.
Nicklaus, who visited the golf courses on Sept. 17, has offered to design them at cost.
Nicklaus said at the time that he was attracted to the project, in part, for the chance to work in an Olmsted-designed park. He said he also looked forward to designing a new golf course and liked the idea of helping a long-pursued goal of restoring the Olmsted-designed arboretum in South Park, only possible by removing the golf course that now occupies the site.
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