Good morning, I am Thomas Herrera-Mishler, President & CEO of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, the not-for-profit organization responsible for the maintenance and operations of Buffalo’s historic park system. (photos will scroll through your introductory remarks) I am honored to welcome you to the Marcy Casino overlooking beautiful Delaware Park to talk about the tremendous impact of the parks on this region. Western New Yorkers have long treasured the Olmsted Park System, as it weaves through virtually every neighborhood of our great city. The major Olmsted Parks – Cazenovia, Delaware, Front, Martin Luther King, Jr., Riverside and South Park are more than just a recreational oasis, with gardens, ball fields, green pastures, trails, lakes, woodlands and places for activity, these parks play a strategic role in the resurgence of our region.
Most people do not see the parks as economic engines. But, managed and operated properly parks can be just that.
Economic benefit comes in different forms. Most people equate it with such things as a manufacturing facility or a retail plaza, but if we look at Buffalo, the Olmsted Parks by their nature of being woven throughout the city have the potential to have their stability turned outward to the communities, neighborhoods, and neighborhood commercial districts in which they border or are in close proximity to act as an economic catalyst for development and jobs.
Buffalo’s Olmsted Parks can provide these economic benefits for our region.
When Frederick Law Olmsted designed the park system in Buffalo (the first park system in the nation), he envisioned a series of places of relaxation, accessible to all. No one needed to pay for a trip out to the countryside, the parks could provide that and more, right near home. Today we enjoy the fruits of that vision in the 1200 acres of parks, parkways, and circles in Buffalo’s Olmsted system. Clean and Well maintained parks attract users. Users are more active and tend to be happier, healthier people. These parks add to the curb appeal of the city which helps to attract higher level workers to the area. Some of which may be employed in your business.
The parks’ health benefits calculator as designed by the Trust for Public Lands, shows that it costs $250 less in annual health care for those under age 65 who live near parks vs. those who do not. The amount saved doubles for those over 65.
Center for Disease control reports that living near a park increases physical activity by 25%, and risk for obesity decreases correspondingly. Obesity and physical inactivity costs as much $94 billion a year, or 9.4 % of the annual health expenses in the United States. Exercise can help in the control and elimination of diabetes in some people. In Buffalo, if we provided nearby parks to all communities, it would amount to a cost savings of $50 million annually of public monies devoted to health care.
At one time, the Olmsted System boasted over 40,000 trees There are currently over 13,500 trees growing in our beautiful park system. Based on USDA Forest Service Urban Forest Effects (UFORE) analysis, Buffalo Olmsted Park trees have a current value of over $22 million dollars. They store 40 metric tons of carbon from the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and they annually remove four metric tons of air pollutants. The retention of rainfall by park trees, shrubs, bushes, and soil helps reduce the cost of treating stormwater runoff and saves the City taxpayers, including businesses, real money. The trees in the Olmsted parks contribute nearly $50,000 in savings annually. (calculation based on information from a Trust for Public Lands report)
Parks are essentially islands of stability. It is by no accident that some of the most desirable, attractive, well maintained, and stable properties are adjacent to Olmsted Parks.
The stability and power of the parks can be turned outward even further to have more reach, meaning and impact into struggling neighborhoods and commercial districts. This is done by the Conservancy introducing and implementing innovative revitalization efforts and policies, such as PID (park improvement districts) in cooperation with the local government and partners.
Olmsted parks historically have attracted the most attention in terms of property value impact . Olmsted himself was one of the early proponents of the proximate principle which he used as economic justification for park development. As early as the 19th century the positive connection between parks and property values was being made. More than 100 years ago, Frederick Law Olmsted conducted a study of how parks help property values. From 1856 to 1873 he tracked the value of property immediately adjacent to Central Park, in order to justify the $13 million spent on its creation. He found that over the 17-year period there was a $209 million increase in the value of the property impacted by the park. Olmsted's analysis shows the real dollar amount impact of parks.
Well maintained parks can be catalysts for neighborhood revitalization. Not every neighborhood has seen the increase in value as Delaware Park has. Some, like MLK Jr. have fallen into a severe state of decline. Together, we can work to put vacant properties back on the tax rolls, re-populate neighborhoods, generate revenue, create jobs, maintain, enhance, and create expanded pockets of economic vitality and stability.
The Olmsted Park Conservancy has been in discussion with the city and several other “green” non-profits to collaborate on what we are calling the Park Improvement District. The City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Schools are including our PID strategy into their “Better Schools, Better Neighborhoods” program. Well maintained parks and adjacent properties reduce vandalism and increase neighborhood pride.
As our budget has allowed, we have hired additional park operation’s employees. Like any employed person, park employees buy and remodel their homes, go out dinner, buy cars, groceries, etc. They invest in your business or your customers.
$9.1 million paid in salaries & benefits since beginning of contract, or an average of $2 million, annually.
Olmsted has trained over 1000 workfare clients, 350 last year. These are people who have been sent to work in the parks, through the Erie County ‘welfare to work program”. Last year, 25 were recommended to the PIVOT program. From there we hired 5 regular seasonal employees. Others used their training and found employment in other businesses. The BOPC is committed to help reduce poverty in our city.
Success Story- one of our zone gardeners started in workfare. Abi Echeverria oversees the Japanese Garden behind the History Museum – because of his enthusiasm and dedication, the “Friends of the Japanese Garden” and our sister city of Kanazawa, invited him to Japan this fall to learn from some master gardeners.
The Plan for the 21 st Century is an ambitious plan conceived through 4 years of development by the City. County, Conservancy, and the UDP at UB, along with the comments of several civic groups and others. All of this to restore and to complete the parks to the original vision of Frederick Law Olmsted.
Maintaining the parks requires a large network of partners. BOPC works with more than 200 vendors and has spent $4 million for goods and services since the contract started. Many of the vendors are local, or county-based, including printers, caterers, quick copy shops, mechanics, and tree farms.
Parks attract tourists. Historic parks attract heritage tourists who stay longer and spend more money. Over 1 million people visit the Olmsted Parks annually. This number does not even account for those that attend the BPO, visit the Zoo or the Albright Knox, It doesn’t include those who come to see Shakespeare or visit the Botanical Gardens or the Darwin Martin House. All of these cultural assets are part of an Olmsted Park or landscape.
Parks with landscape planting and design that are recognized as “living works of art” can be tourist attractions. THM- You may or may not want to use the following example A great example…Prospect Park in Brooklyn is widely considered to be the finest park designed by Olmsted and Vaux. Within the boundaries of the 526-acre park are a variety of natural and planned landscapes.The principal features of their design are the Long Meadow, a heavily wooded area they called the Ravine, and a 60-acre lake. The park became so dilapidated due to lack of maintenance that by 1984, attendance had fallen to a historically low 2 million visits a year. In the 1990s, more than $100 million of private and city investment successfully renovated the park, restoring much of its original glory. Attendance rebounded to 6 million visits a year as Prospect Park again became one of the most popular attractions for tourists in New York City.
Several businesses like NRG, M&T Bank, HSBC, and others have invested their time and money to the parks through the Conservancy. 2009 volunteer hours are even higher.
The best golf conditions in a generation. Great caterers – Rich’s, Palate, Sample, and Current. A wonderful café and a kiosk on the Ring Road. Whether to relax and unwind, play a round of golf, host a holiday party, or train the next wave of employees, Come and enjoy some of the best scenery in the city.
Sponsor an event or program, Join as a corporate member or individually, Donate to the cause, Advocate to our local officials Invest in the future of the parks
The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, turns 31 years old this year. Started as the “Friends of the Olmsted Parks” with the support of Joan Bozer, former Erie County Legislator and true friend of the parks restoration movement. We have a diverse and hardworking board chaired by David Colligan and vice chair is Anne Harding Joyce. Trustees include Jerry Castiglia, Joan Bozer, Gary Mucci, Richard Cummings, Ivan Lee and Bob Kresse, to name a few.
This is the Conservancy’s core purpose
Why Parks Are Good For Business
Why Parks are Good for Business December 3, 2009
Neighborhood Revitalization An effective vacant land strategy can make more than just a visual difference in a neighborhood. The Philly Green model is shown above.
Parks Create Jobs <ul><li>2009 180 </li></ul><ul><li>2008: 166 </li></ul><ul><li>2007: 118 </li></ul><ul><li>2006: 111 </li></ul><ul><li>2005: 175 </li></ul><ul><li>2004: 93 </li></ul># of Olmsted Parks Employees
Jobs <ul><li>Over $9.1 million paid in salaries </li></ul><ul><li>since 2004 </li></ul>
Parks Jobs <ul><li>1000 workfare trained, </li></ul><ul><li>90 hired by BOPC </li></ul>
Job Training Success Abi Echeverria, Sr. Zone Gardener Japanese Garden and Former Workfare Client
Future Impact <ul><li>Plan for the 21 st Century </li></ul><ul><li>20 year Master Plan </li></ul><ul><li>300 Projects </li></ul><ul><li>$428 million </li></ul><ul><li>Design </li></ul><ul><li>Engineering </li></ul><ul><li>Construction </li></ul><ul><li>New Opportunities </li></ul>
Parks are Good for Business <ul><li>BOPC 200 + vendors </li></ul><ul><li>Paid out over $4 million in expenses </li></ul>
Tourism <ul><li>“ Buffalo’s historic Olmsted parks are the most intact in the nation </li></ul><ul><li>Charles Beveridge, 11/2008 </li></ul>
Business Invests in the Parks <ul><li>4500 volunteer hours in 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>Valued at $67,500 </li></ul>
Consider the Olmsted Parks <ul><li>The Olmsted Parks are here to help you </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Training </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Meetings </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Parties </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Golf Outings </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Trade Shows </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Company Events </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>And more </li></ul></ul></ul>
Partner with the BOPC <ul><ul><ul><li>Sponsorships </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Membership </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Donations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Advocacy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Investment </li></ul></ul></ul>
<ul><li>Tax exempt, 501( c )3, membership-based organization established in 1978 </li></ul><ul><li>Promote, Preserve, Restore, Enhance & Ensure maintenance of Olmsted Parks and Parkways for current and future generations </li></ul>Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy
Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy To honor yesterday’s heritage, enhance quality of life today and create a world-class legacy for the Buffalo of tomorrow.