THE PUBLIC WILL GET ITS FIRST CHANCE FRIDAY MORNING TO HEAR MORE ABOUT THE BUFFALO OLMSTED PARKS CONSERVANCY’S PLANS TO RESTORE AND EXPAND ITS ARBORETUM AT SOUTH PARK.
The results of a feasibility study on the arboretum restoration will be included during a panel discussion by four national experts beginning at 8 a.m. at the Margaret L. Wendt Archives and Resource Center at Forest Lawn.
The feasibility study has been underway for over a year, and will include a timeline, budget and phasing of the project.
The panelists will speak to the tourism and economic development potential of the arboretum project, as well as its importance to the local community, said Stephanie Crockatt, conservancy executive director.
“Hopefully this will bring the audience closer to the project to see just how valuable this project is and what it means in terms of environmental conservation and the health and wellness of the region,” she said.
The panel, moderated by David Colligan, includes Ned Friedman, director of the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University; Lucy Lawliss, chairwoman of the National Association for Olmsted Parks; Doug Blonsky, former CEO at the Central Park Conservancy; and Kyle Zick, a landscape architect and consultant who conducted the feasibility study.
While more details will be released Friday, Colligan said the comprehensive plan calls for six initial phases that include the existing golf course. Another five later phases consider possibilities if the golf course closes or is moved elsewhere. Fundraising to support the project will concentrate strictly on the arboretum development, he said.
“The first six phases will take a fair amount of money and effort to raise the arboretum’s raiting from a level one to level three,” he said. “Our project is designed around the idea that the last five phases would be done only if the golf course is moved.”
Though the conservancy’s priority remains on the arboretum, Crockatt said the group has remained open to working with attorney Kevin Gaughan on his plans for a new course for South Park on a neighboring brownfields site. The city first proposed the possibility in 2014. Crockett said the existing golf course at South Park will remain until such time a new course is open and operating.
Initial plans called for releasing the arboretum study results in January, but the scope of the public outreach and the approval process resulted in a delay. Holding it a few months also allows the conservancy to do it on Arbor Day, coinciding with Olmsted Parks’ 150th anniversary in 2018. But the project still has a ways to go, Crockatt said.
“This is going to be a marathon project, not a sprint,” she said. “It does take years for trees to grow and be appreciated, though we do have some amazing original Olmsted trees still at South Park. This will be an amazing project for the community.”