Written by Kevin Heffernan
Ring Road in Delaware Park is starting to get a little crowded, but there’s so much more space to enjoy.
I like golf. I’m not a fanatic, but I have a lot of fun playing with my friends a few times each year. I’m fortunate to have the means to travel from the city to the suburbs when I play, and that has led me to be critical of the courses that take over massive portions of our city’s parks. I know there’s an underlying issue of accessibility and equality when discussing the merits of these courses in our parks, but that argument can be made another day. When we’re not in the middle of a public health crisis where adequate space is critical. Golf can wait. All that open space needs to be utilized by every pedestrian.
These are strange times. Everyone on the internet, TV and radio sending mixed messages of “Stay in, but go outside.” While we no longer have the array of bars, restaurants, coffee shops and retail stores to make our destinations, Buffalo’s incredible system of parks and parkways are the envy of people from cities all over the country. People are hitting them in droves. On bikes, rollerblades, with dogs, running, walking, and just feeling good.
There’s a special feeling where it seems people are going out of their way to make eye contact and smile. Out of solidarity and because seeing other humans feels inherently good. It’s part of who and what we are. While walking through Delaware Park yesterday, we saw an older couple walking with yard sticks at their side to help maintain some distance from others. Then I looked to my left and saw 18 holes of golf, nearly abandoned. My wife, a friend of ours and I decided to turn 90 degrees and head straight out to the middle of the entire field and it was GLORIOUS! We confidently sucked in the deepest breaths of air we could handle before grinning ear-to-ear and stretching our arms out wide to repeat.
We avoided greens where we could, knowing how hard the Parks employees work to keep those together. But when we’re told to treat everyone as if they’re infected, is avoiding the course entirely really a priority right now? Golf can have its time when all of this is behind us. Open space is a precious resource right now, and if you need it, go get it.
Leave Ring Road in DP. Go walk out into the open space and feel free. The same for South Park and Cazenovia Park especially. It’s yours to roam, not just the perimeter. And in each of our other beautiful oases, LaSalle (Centennial), Front Park, Riverside, MLK, Bidwell, Chapin, Lincoln, get off the road and into the grass. Feel truly free before you lock yourself back up in your home. When times are better for everyone financially, remember the commitment of the Olmsted Parks Conservancy to keeping these parks beautiful and clean. Whether you do your part to never allow a single piece of trash to touch the ground, or go further and spend your recreation time cleaning trash up, or you make a donation to their organization, or attend one of their parties, pay them back. They are the reason we have these incredible places to enjoy.
Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy Statement RE: COVID19
“We are all living in a sensitive and challenging time. The Conservancy stands with you, with Buffalo,
our community partners, and our park patrons. We feel for those who are unwell, please stay home and
recuperate. For those who remain healthy, remember that social distancing is not social isolation. Anyone
needing fresh air, to walk your dog, or find a place to reflect and find peace, your parks are here for you.
Olmsted designed parks as a place for respite, reflection and daily exercise, and their purpose holds true
today. The parks are open to everyone, and while we advise park users to respect social distancing and
personal hygiene, the Conservancy reminds you of the amazing value of open greenspace. Take a walk,
ride your bike, go for run, find solace and lift your spirit.”
Executive Director, Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.