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Olmsted's South Park Arboretum secures first curator

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Tue, Jan 12th 2021 11:20 am

Lapp joins Olmsted Conservancy team to manage historic restoration project

After a thorough nationwide search, on Jan. 4 the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy welcomed Margaret Lapp as the organization’s first curator for the South Park Arboretum. Thanks to a “generous” capacity grant from KeyBank and the First Niagara Foundation, the funded curator position will commence administering the first six of 11 phases approved for returning the Olmsted original design.

“The South Park Arboretum Restoration project has never been more valuable or necessary than it is today, as trees literally breathe life into our community,” said Stephanie Crockatt, Olmsted Parks Conservancy executive director. “The exhaustive search was worth it, as Margaret with her impressive background combining landscape architecture and public health is exactly what we need right now for this Olmsted project in South Buffalo and for our nonprofit team.”

A press release said, “The pandemic of 2020 has brought into perspective the renewed need and role of public parks, green space, and open access to natural resources for keeping our minds and bodies healthy. Lapp is uniquely qualified for this position, as she is the first to combine a master of landscape architecture, from SUNY ESF, and a master of public health, from SUNY Upstate Medical University. Originally lured by Olmsted’s ‘design for the masses’ theory, she is a keen knowledge-seeker who values the power of research and multidisciplinary collaboration.”

Lapp’s passion for plants and trees propelled her from her family’s Niagara County farm to South America. As the Cornell University Dreer Award recipient, Lapp designed the first highland ethnobotanic garden, as part of an Ecuadorian Food for Peace project that received attention from international associations including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Bioversity International and the Chicago Botanic Garden.

“From every angle, this opportunity is remarkable and vital for Western New York, and I am absolutely thrilled to be part of it,” Lapp said. “I’m proud to join the conservancy and share my expertise, especially with raised awareness of parks and trees as critical to public health. There is much to do, learn and share about the many benefits this project has in bringing wellness, science, education, economic impact and tourism to our community, for generations.”

The press release added, “The conservancy will be planning to hold a press event closer to Arbor Day 2021 as an official public welcome to Lapp with a delivery of her first update on the restoration project. KeyBank and the First Niagara Foundation are applauded for championing this capacity grant investment. Additional thanks go to all donors, friends and the SPARP (South Park Arboretum Restoration Project) members who helped to fund and publish an extensive 11-phase feasibility study, along with funds to begin this historic restoration project. Phases 1-6 received approvals with public and city support through the study process via consultant Kyle Zick Landscape Architecture. Phases 7-11 have yet to be approved. Phase one funding was recently fulfilled with a match by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to ensure implementation in 2021.

The South Park Arboretum Restoration Project feasibility study was published in 2018. For more information on this project, visit https://www.bfloparks.org/south-park-arboretum-restoration-project/.

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