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Vandals Damage Olmsted-Designed Park

The thousands of dollars in damage at Delaware Park done by vandals included graffiti painted on a column at the historic Marcy Casino.

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Delaware Park in Buffalo, N.Y. was desecrated by vandals on Saturday night in late May. By the middle of the next week, businesses and the community stepped forward to pay for the repairs to one of Frederick Law Olmsted's first three parks in Buffalo.

The damage came at the hands of a group of more than 100 teenagers and young adults who went on a destructive spree, according to officials from Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.

Thomas Herrera-Mishler, president and CEO of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, shows damage to a slide on the playground in Rumsey Woods at Delaware Park.

A hole had been ripped on the slide at the children's playground. The historic fountain at the Rose Garden was broken in two places. The Ivy Bridge in Rumsey Woods was spray-painted with the message, ''sorry about your wall,'' apparently referring to the walls of Marcy Casino, which were spray-painted, as were some pillars, the elevator for the handicapped and a couple of windows.

The damage will cost thousands and thousands of dollars to repair, Thomas Herrera-Mishler, CEO of Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, said.

Costly chemicals are necessary to remove surface graffiti from the casino's walls and columns. ''You just can't clean it with a power washer. It's like cleaning a piece of artwork. You have to be very gentle," said Kevin Hannah, Olmsted operations director. ''All of this puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the budget.''

Numerous small donors, HSBC BANK and Labatt USA, eased those budget strains. Within hours of news reports at local media outlets, small donations began pouring in. Then came the phone call from Labatt USA.

''They asked how much it would take to repair the damage in Delaware Park. We gave them the total and an hour later they offered to cover the immediate costs in full,'' said Herrera-Mishler. ''The most effective way to counteract the vandals is to remove the graffiti, fix the playground and repair the fountain. To do it quickly and with the help of our community, only diminishes the vandals' negative impact on us.''

Delaware Park serves as the focal point of the Olmsted system and today contains many of Buffalo's cultural institutions. Simply named The Park by Olmsted, this 350-acre setting serves as Buffalo's ''Central Park.''

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November 20, 2019, 2:42 pm PDT

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