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Olmsted’s South Park Arboretum Secures First Curator

By January 12, 2021April 22nd, 2021No Comments
South Park Aerial_Photo by Lemur Studios


Lapp joins the Olmsted Conservancy team to manage the historic restoration project

Sarah Larkin
Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy | 716.861.0716

After a thorough nationwide search, on January 4th the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy welcomed Margaret Lapp as the organization’s first curator for the South Park Arboretum.

Margaret Lapp, South Park Arboretum Curator

Thanks to a generous capacity grant from Key Bank and the First Niagara Foundation, the funded curator position will commence administering the first six of eleven 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, 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.”

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 multi-disciplinary 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, Margaret designed the first highland ethnobotanic garden, as part of an Ecuadorian Food for Peace project which received attention from international associations including the United States 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,” stated Lapp. “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 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 and Ms. Lapp’s biography, please visit


About the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy
The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy is the first nonprofit organization in the nation, through a unique public-private partnership, to manage and operate an entire urban park system consisting of more than 850 acres of beautifully designed historic parks, parkways and circles. The Conservancy is an independent not-for-profit, community organization whose mission is to promote, preserve, restore, enhance, and maintain the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed parks and parkways in the Greater Buffalo area for current and future generations. Since 2004 the Conservancy has held responsibility for the management and care of these nationally registered historic green spaces, and in 2019 the Conservancy and City signed a new 12-year partnership agreement with an approved update to its five-year plan for the Olmsted parks in continuing to assist the City in bringing recognition to its collective renaissance. Designed by America’s first landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted more than 150 years ago, these 25 iconic connective spaces represent the nation’s first urban park system. More than 2.5 million visits occur in Buffalo’s Olmsted Park system annually for recreation, relaxation and rejuvenation. Most recently, the American Planning Association recognized Delaware Park as one of the 2014 Great Places in America, The Guardian publication named Buffalo’s Olmsted park system as one of the best park systems in the world, and in 2018 the Conservancy set a Guinness World Record in historic Bidwell Parkway.

The Buffalo Olmsted Park System includes:
Six parks: Cazenovia, Delaware, Front, Martin Luther King, Jr., Riverside, and South parks
Seven parkways: Bidwell, Chapin, Lincoln, McKinley, Porter, Red Jacket, and Richmond
Eight landscaped traffic circles: Agassiz, Colonial, Ferry, Gates, McClellan, McKinley, Soldiers, and Symphony