The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy’s plan to raise money by putting the names of its major donors on banners in the parks has lost a key supporter.
North Council Member Joseph Golombek, an original supporter of the banners, has submitted legislation to reverse an ordinance that now allows them.
“I don’t want the parks to be too commercial,” Golombek said. “The potential for it to get carried away is there, and I think we’re better off not doing it.”
The legislation came as a surprise to conservancy president and CEO Thomas Herrera-Mishler.
“This is an unfortunate setback for the conservancy and the care of the parks,” he said.
To cover about half of its $4 million budget, the conservancy seeks money from individual and corporate donors. The donations supplement $1.2 million from the city, as well as revenues from park users and in-kind services from the city.
Raising money can be difficult. The banners would help the conservancy raise more money to pay for its operations, Herrera-Mishler said.
“There are no logos,” he said. “It’s extremely tasteful.”
The Council allowed the banners in Riverside and Martin Luther King Jr. parks.
But Golombek’s amendment would reverse that. The banners, not yet hung, faced opposition earlier this year from the Preservation Board.
The conservancy also wants an increase in park fees, which would also help raise money for park maintenance. The Council has not acted on the request.
The banners, which were to be hung from light standards along the edges of the parks, would not be placed in “historic landscapes,” Herrera-Mishler said.
The banners would build community awareness of the parks, Herrera-Mishler said.
He rejected the characterizing the banners as advertising.
“They’re simply intended to raise awareness of the parks and to acknowledge our sponsors so that we can get more revenues in to take care of the parks,” he said.
Daniel Sack, vice president of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture and Culture, opposes the banners.
Instead, Erie County should help fund the parks. Sack said.
Sack was instrumental in getting the Council to consider reversing its original decision allowing the banners.
“I want them to have more money,” Sack said of the conservancy. “What I really want them to do is embarrass the county into giving them money.”
Herrera-Mishler said he wants the banners to be placed in all of the parks. He has worked on the issue for two years.
The Common Council’s Legislation Committee will review the legislation when it meets next week.