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Olmsted Parks: Discussions Minus Negotiations

The City of Buffalo’s Acting Corporation Council, along with various other City departments, met with a group from the Olmsted Conservancy last week in a meeting that was more discussion, less negotiation, according to Olmsted Board of Trustees Chair, David Colligan.  The meeting comes on the heels of the County turning over control of the Olmsted Parks to the City of Buffalo.

“The City is in an information gathering mode now,” Colligan says. “At this point in time, they’ve done nothing to allay or increase our fears.” Colligan also says that now that the conservancy has supplied the City with volumes of information, they hope for a prompt response, with no next meeting scheduled at this time.
Colligan explained that the initial fear came from one sentence in Mayor Brown’s initial letter to the conservancy.  Though it took Mayor Brown almost one year to respond to County Executive Chris Collins’ offer of giving the parks back to the City, the sentence that startled the conservancy is as follows: “In addition the conservancy or a new operator will need time for transitioning to the new agreement…”
Or a new operator.
“I don’t think the mayor started this,” Colligan states.  “It’s fair to say it was started by Collins a year ago, and it probably took this much time for the City to come to a conclusion.”
Colligan says that right now, the conservancy has to look ahead as to how the City’s charter relates to workers and other entities in contractual terms. He is particularly interested in the infrastructure that guides municipal decision-making as it might relate to the operation of the Olmsted Parks. 
“The bottom line is that we’re certainly willing to negotiate around legitimate issues,” Colligan says.  Because the parks have been run with regional guidelines, the conservancy would be less than willing to be held to stricter residency standards than any other City entity.  As for diversity, the conservancy more than upholds requirements and, therefore, has no worries in that regard.
In a change of hands that the conservancy was hoping would be a matter of the City signing the contract where the County once did, there are still questions; Colligan says ‘why’ still hasn’t been answered.
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