IT WAS A LONG SHOT, TO BE SURE.
When the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy announced a 20-year master plan with $428 million in projects, it was with a combination of hope and dreaming among planners. Even so, the nonprofit that manages the 850-acre system of parks, parkways and circles citywide has accomplished much since the plan was announced in mid-2008, with $35 million in projects completed through 2015.
BUFFALO, NY — Stephanie Crockatt, who joined the nonprofit in the fall as executive director, knows the initial time frame might have been a bit ambitious, but she’s determined to move forward.
She looks at the plan in pieces rather than one project. The No. 1 goal was to brand the park system as historic and restore its integrity. That starts with getting the message out, she said.
“Jumping into some of these projects has been fantastic. I think it shows we can do what we say we’re going to do,” she said. “But we need to go back to basics and build the core brand because if we can tell the story, that gives us the foundation to build fundraising upon.
“With the few projects that have already gone on, we can show we practice what we preach. I just don’t think it’s going to happen as rapidly as some people thought.”
Total cost for all recommended projects included $252.5 million for restoration of everything in the parks, parkways, circles and small spaces, with $175.5 million for projects outside the parks including connections and extensions to the system.
Of the work completed, 35 percent was at Riverside Park, partly due to funding through the Niagara Greenway Commission.
About 17 percent addressed Delaware Park, including the Marcy Casino. The rose pergola will be completed by summer.
Thirty percent took place at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, including rehabilitation of the casino and wading pool and next, the greenhouse complex. That’s come in large part through a $1 million sponsorship by BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York — exactly the kind of public-private partnership the conservancy hopes to find more of, Crockatt said.
“It takes a little bit of time. Even the park system itself, from the day Olmsted arrived in 1868 until Riverside Park was completed was over 30 years,” she said. “I think we need to give ourselves probably a little more time to restore and protect and tell the story.”
Tracey Drury covers health/medical, nonprofits and insurance