Col­lab­o­rat­ing on im­prove­ments makes sense

The Buffalo News - - OPINION - Olm­sted Parks By Kevin Gaughan Kevin Gaughan is a Buf­falo at­tor­ney and civic leader.

In my nearly 30 years of civic work, I’ve learned that no pur­pose is served by re­spond­ing to those who en­gage in per­sonal at­tacks. But as Anne Hard­ing Joyce’s re­cent ar­ti­cle about my Olm­sted parks plan in­cludes in­ac­cu­ra­cies and an im­pugn­ing of my mo­tives, I must an­swer.

More than three years ago, I ap­proached the Parks Con­ser­vancy with my idea to have Jack Nick­laus re­design Delaware Park’s golf course, build a sec­ond pub­lic course next to South Park so we can fully re­store Fred­er­ick Law Olm­sted’s ar­bore­tum, and bind these new ameni­ties with an in­ner-city youth ed­u­ca­tion cen­ter. In June 2016, af­ter two years of re­fin­ing my plan, I brought it to the pub­lic and asked con­ser­vancy trustees to con­sider it.

In her ar­ti­cle, Joyce de­scribes a con­ser­vancy sub­com­mit­tee meet­ing held on Sept. 7, 2016, to which I brought ex­ec­u­tives from Nick­laus De­sign. She claims that I have had no con­tact with the con­ser­vancy since then. That is not true. I met with the full board of con­ser­vancy trustees on Sept. 29, 2016, and with chair­man Kevin Kelly three times in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber 2016. I sent four ex­ten­sive let­ters to the trustees in the year’s fi­nal months, and have had nu­mer­ous phone con­ver­sa­tions with Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Stephanie Crock­att.

To para­phrase the late sen­a­tor, Daniel Pa­trick Moyni­han, Joyce is en­ti­tled to her own opin­ion, but she’s not en­ti­tled to her own facts. A cour­tesy phone call to me or any of her col­leagues would have led her to the truth.

As for my mo­tives in this mat­ter, which Joyce ques­tions, I sup­pose they are not un­like her own in the ad­mirable ser­vice she’s ren­dered her com­mu­nity. She be­lieves in West­ern New York. As do I.

For three years, I’ve vol­un­teered my time and ex­pended per­sonal re­sources to re­search our parks sys­tem, learn from Olm­sted ex­perts, travel the na­tion in search of pro­ject funds and meet nu­mer­ous times with Jack Nick­laus and my fundrais­ing part­ner, Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion Chair­man John Thornton.

Joyce writes that, in sup­port of their plan to par­tially re­store the ar­bore­tum, David Col­li­gan and Dick Grif­fin have per­formed com­pa­ra­ble ser­vice, which I ad­mire and re­spect.

But the ques­tion is not the amount of ef­fort we’ve de­voted to our sep­a­rate pro­pos­als. The ques­tion is the mer­its of each. I be­lieve my plan for full ar­bore­tum restora­tion, along with adding two Jack Nick­laus-de­signed golf cour­ses and an ed­u­ca­tion cen­ter, does more for our city. That’s why, in my re­cent let­ter to the con­ser­vancy, I re­spect­fully re­quested that it sup­port my plan and work to­gether to bring these news ameni­ties to Buf­falo res­i­dents.

That’s also why I’ve asked to meet once again with the con­ser­vancy’s full board of trustees. I re­main hope­ful the board will grant me that con­ver­sa­tion.

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