On June 1, I wrote here about my concerns regarding plans to remove about 700 feet of asphalt pathway in Cazenovia Park – alongside and providing views of the Cazenovia Creek. On June 2, Stephanie Crockatt, Executive Director of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, replied by email to many of the issues that I raised concerning plans to remove the asphalt pathway and concrete steps at Cazenovia Park. Ms. Crockatt’s correspondence confirms BOPC’s plan to, in fact, eliminate that portion of the upper pathway starting at Warren Spahn Way. I share her correspondence below, and provide my initial response to her comments in brackets and bold print. Also, I am attaching a pdf containing a slide presentation, provided to me on June 3 by BOPC’s Director of Planning and Advocacy, Brian Dold, reflecting Caz Park history and BOPC’s current proposal for pathway reconstruction, etc. Caz Park – June 2021 slide presentation
From: “Stephanie Crockatt”
Cc: “Andy Rabb”, “Greg Robinson”, “Councilmember Scanlon – South”
Sent: Wednesday June 2 2021 4:33:51PM
Subject: Cazenovia Paths/Stairs
Mr. Giacalone and Ms. ______________,
The Conservancy appreciates your outreach on the topic of the pathway reconstruction along the southern edge of Cazenovia Creek.
As you may know, these paths have been in rough condition for years, with numerous complaints from the community. Thankfully in working with the City and funding allocations, we were able to partner on a restoration project.
[AJG: Every person with whom I have spoken in Caz Park since May 27 is pleased to hear that the bumpy and uneven condition of the asphalt pathway, primarily found between Cazenovia St. and the northern set of concrete steps, will be removed and replaced. However, not one of the two or three dozen park-goers was aware of the plan to remove a 700-foot portion of the asphalt pathway that provides proximity and views of the creek.]
The project stems from our master plan’s five-year priority project update. You may recall the Conservancy held several public input sessions throughout 2018 and into 2019 in working to determine projects the communities around the Olmsted parks would like to see elevated in attention and improvement. Number 4 for Cazenovia Park is the pathways.
[AJG: I was in attendance at the Cazenovia Park public sessions in 2018-2019. Not once did I hear anyone from BOPC state or suggest that pathway attention and improvements would involve removal of approximately one-third of the existing asphalt pathway along the creek’s shore. The fact that South District Councilmember Christopher Scanlon – for whom pathway improvements is a very high priority – did not know on May 27 that any of the asphalt pathway would be removed and replaced by lawn reflects a failure by BOPC to keep our elected representative, much less the users of Caz Park, adequately informed.]
Yes, in this project there are areas where the path will be relocated to the correct historical alignment. This is due to the fact that the current high pathway (and the staircases) were part of a DPW project – maybe 30 or 40 years ago – which tried to address the flooding, ice damming and other creek impacts on the park.
[AJG: The original plans for Cazenovia Park included a 20-acre recreational lake as its centerpiece, separated into two sections by a carriage bridge and featuring two islands. As existing signage in the park describes, the original plan “allowed park-goers more access to the water than in other, larger parks.” Later changes in the park altered “the once pastoral landscape” by introducing an ice-skating rink, community center, and an indoor swimming pool, etc. The pursuit of “historic integrity,” by removal of a popular section of pathway that provides proximity and views of the creek not available from the “historic parallel route,” appears to be little more than a fanciful conceit attainable only at the expense of current park-goers (who now have the option of experiencing the contrasting ambience of either the high or low road).]
The high berm constructed along the southern shore was not part of the Olmsted alignment or topography, and some of those higher paths have actually become a safety hazard. The odd staircases are not historic and are not something the Conservancy would advocate to keep or even ask the City to continue for deferred maintenance expenses.
[AJG: The reality is that the high berm is not being eliminated and is, most likely, a permanent feature in the park and obstacle to any meaningful replication of the Olmsted alignment or topography. The berm, along with the concrete steps, are a testament to the unrealistic nature of the original Olmstedian plans. The “odd staircases” (which I believe have been there for more than a half-century) provide an excellent opportunity for educating the public about both the history of Caz Park and the difficulties of creating a park adjacent to a mighty creek. Olmstedians should embrace such an educational effort.]
The process the Conservancy follows in such planning and design decisions is to first vet with the public, which we did in 2018-2019. We then work with City parks and engineering on historic realignments, repairs or renovations in mapping out the project. We pass the designs through our Design Review Committee with the Conservancy which is a group of community volunteers and professionals. We then take final designs through to the Preservation Board for their approval, which also has a public input component.
[AJG: No matter BOPC’s intent, the vetting process as a means to educate and obtain the consensus of the public was extremely flawed. The Preservation Board process added to the misinformation. Not only was the subject line for the May 27 meeting devoid of any reference to removal-without-replacement of a significant section of asphalt pathway (“Reconstruct and realign asphalt pathways and remove concrete steps”), the publicly available documents lacked a narrative, and failed to include informative images of the actual plans.]
It is unfortunate that the project is causing you concern, but I can assure you that we take every project seriously in it’s historical context and integrity, public safety aspects, and sustainability as to further investment and/or anticipated aging and repairs.
[AJG: BOPC can demonstrate its commitment by: (a) asking the City to discontinue implementation of any aspect of the project other than removal and replacement of the asphalt pathway between Cazenovia Street and the northern concrete steps; and (b) conducting a well-advertised public forum at the Caz Park community center to allow the users of Caz Park the opportunity to learn about the final designs, and to express their preferences regarding the portion of the asphalt pathway commencing at Warren Spahn Way, and the other features of the proposed project.]
If you would like to speak with me directly or perhaps even meet out on site with our staff landscape architect, Greg Robinson, let me know.
[AJG: I would appreciate the opportunity to meet on site with you, Greg Robinson, and perhaps BOPC’s Brian Dold, as well as Councilmember Chris Scanlon. Thank you.]
Executive Director, Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy
716-838-1249×16 Office / http://www.bfloparks.org
With all due respect,