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Proposal to return park golf courses to 'Olmsted's original vision' moves forward


Civic activist Kevin Gaughan on Wednesday formally presented his proposal to return Delaware Park and South Park to Frederick Law Olmsted's original vision. Gaughan says he and Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy had a very constructive meeting and he is planning several public meetings beginning in September to gather input on the proposal.

For the past two years, Gaughan has been working on a plan to scale down Delaware Park's golf course (18 holes) and replace South Park's course (9 holes) with a new one on former industrial land along Hopkins Road, a few blocks north of the park. Delaware's arboretum would be restored and an education center for city youth would be added, while a trust would be created to maintain the two parks.

He is not doing it alone. Legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus has agreed to help.

"When I met with Jack Nicklaus, who by the way is a remarkable man, a very empathetic man," said Gaughan, "and when I told him about our city and told him about our turnaround, but told him we still remain the fifth most impoverished city in America with some 30 percent of young African American inner city folks are unemployed, he said, 'I'll help.'"

Gaughan also has the help of a fundraiser to raise the estimated $40 million cost, which would come totally from private funds. He says the proposal takes advantage of and shifts downtown Buffalo's economic turnaround for the greater good and enjoyment of the most people.

"The bottom line is we've all struggled for the past several years to create energy and investment to help turn our city around. My view is that now is the time to devise ideas and initiatives that will ensure that the broadest number of folks and city residents, including people of color and inner city residents, benefit from this new energy and this new investment and feel that they're part of it," Gaughan said.