Time is of the essence for re-designing parts of Delaware Park. That is according to civic leader Kevin Gaughan, who is asking the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy to meet and move forward his plan to have legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus improve the golf course.
In order to gather funds from investors from outside the region, Gaughan says he needs to show there are local entities willing to invest in this project. The Conservancy currently is against local funding, fearing the project could take away money for other parks operations.
However, Gaughan believes a compromise can be made, especially with the educational benefits he is pushing for in the plan.
"It's purpose will be the provide inner-city minority youth with vocation skills related to the natural environment - land maintenance, water conservation, botany, agronomy," he said. "Speaking with magnificent education experts around the country and here at the University at Buffalo School of Education, the aim would be to sort of aim it toward high school and college-aged inner-city youth who perhaps have not been successful in getting the traditional education."
Gaughan said Nicklaus got on board with the plan after hearing about some issues in the city of Buffalo.
“When I talked my way into Jack Nicklaus’ office and asked him to do this essentially for free, he balked a little bit," said Gaughan. "But when I started telling him about our city’s plight and telling him of the now close to 30% unemployment rate of inner city African Americans in Buffalo… he said, ‘that can’t be.’ I said this education center will help change that and he said, ‘I’ll do it.’ So I’m very excited about it and that’s another reason why I’m asking our local conservancy to sort of get off the mark a little bit and let’s get going.”
National Association for Olmsted Parks Trustee Frank Kowsky said the plan would aid the city's legacy.
"It is the city that Olmsted himself said was the best planned city in the world as for its parks and recreation grounds, so it is a legacy the city should be very proud of and has been over the past few years working to bring back," Kowsky said. "The Conservancy has done a great job in restoring elements of the park that were neglected or gone and they're still working on it."
The proposed project would cost around $40 million, with no taxpayer or public funds required.