For additional facts, figures, quotes, or other information, contact the Parks Public Communications Group by phone at 954-357-8117 or by email at ParksMarketing@Broward.org.
Recreation. Preservation. Education.
The Parks and Recreation Division is dedicated to providing a countywide park system with diverse facilities and recreation opportunities, along with natural area conservation and research-based educational outreach, to enhance the well-being of residents, businesses, and visitors.
Broward County Parks and Recreation conducts extensive internal self-assessments of its business and professional practices every five years. We compare the results with a comprehensive and rigorous set of national standards of excellence established by the National Recreation and Park Association and the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). These standards include desirable practices essential for agency professionalism, efficiency, and effectiveness in administration, planning, operations, and the quality of community services.
We submitted results of the Division’s self-assessments to CAPRA in 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011. Shortly thereafter, a team of parks and recreation directors and educators from across the country, assigned to observe and review our performance and practices, conducted a multiday, on-site visit.
The on-site visitation team’s reports reflected 96 percent, 100 percent, 100 percent, and 100 percent, respectively, in meeting the national standards.
A Brief History
The Broward County Board of County Commissioners established the Parks and Recreation Division in February 1956, appointing Carl F. Thompson as County Beach Superintendent to supervise all parks under the County’s jurisdiction, effective May 14, 1956. By April 1965, the system totaled a County beach and three undeveloped areas, with an annual operating budget of $10,000 and average attendance of 950,000 annually.
The 1977 Land Use Plan mandated the first major stage of the expansion of the County park system, financed by a voter-approved $73 million bond issue in 1978 and by further state and federal grants that came to more than $7 million. Parks and Recreation’s Planning and Design Section embarked on a 10-year build-out program that ultimately made today’s park system possible.
In 1989 the county used the $75 million Environmentally Sensitive Lands Bond Issue to purchase and enhance the best remaining natural area sites in the County. Parks and Recreation played a major role in the identification of more than 1,100 acres of local natural areas, the negotiation of their purchase, and the preservation, restoration, and maintenance of each natural area site for public benefit and use.
The 2000 Safe Parks and Land Preservation Bond Referendum, approved by 74 percent of Broward County voters, authorized $400 million toward preserving and reclaiming remaining natural lands, as well as restoring the aging park system. Today that system includes nearly 50 regional parks and nature centers, neighborhood parks, and natural areas at various stages of development, for a total of almost 6,500 acres, run with an annual operating budget of more than $35 million and hosting more than 11 million visitors per year.
Anne Kolb Nature Center – The largest nature center in Broward County is named after the late County Commissioner Anne Kolb, a former award-winning journalist who in 1974 became the first woman elected to the Broward County Commission. Before her death in July 1981, Kolb was an active environmentalist with extensive accomplishments: leading the fight for the 1977 Land Use Plan, helping pass a platting ordinance that tightened government control over future development, directing a successful campaign to place a building moratorium on 61,000 acres in southwest Broward, and persuading the Commission to approve the Urban Wilderness Park System to preserve endangered lands for future generations. She was also instrumental in saving from development the coastal mangrove wetland that would be at the heart of the nature center that bears her name.
Brian Piccolo Sports Park & Velodrome – This sports-oriented park was originally slated to be called the South Broward Sports Center but was ultimately named in honor of the Chicago Bears halfback Brian Piccolo, who graduated in 1961 from Fort Lauderdale’s Central Catholic High School (now known as St. Thomas Aquinas High School). Piccolo’s life and career, cut short by cancer, were chronicled in the 1971 made-for-TV movie Brian’s Song.
C.B. Smith Park – Previously known as Snake Creek Park , this regional park was renamed in 1967 after C.B. Smith, a former Broward County and City of Hollywood Commissioner who supported the cause of public land for parks.
Easterlin Park – The County’s first regional park, originally known as Cypress Park because of the dense cypress trees covering much of its area, was renamed in honor of seven-year County Commissioner John D. Easterlin, who died in 1968.
Helene Klein Pineland Preserve – On October 18, 2002, Broward County dedicated this site, previously known as Site 19, to Helene Klein, a local environmental activist who died in July 2001. Klein’s efforts on behalf of the project had included collecting petitions and lobbying the Broward County Commission for the preservation of public lands. The preserve, which was acquired in 2002 through the 2000 Safe Parks and Land Preservation Bond Program and a Florida Communities Trust Grant, opened to the public on February 1, 2008.
Herman and Dorothy Shooster Preserve– The Shoosters moved from the Philadelphia area to South Florida in the mid-1970s in search of new career opportunities. Herman, an Army veteran of World War II, and Dorothy, whose mother lived in South Florida, took over a small answering service and helped it grow into Global Response, one of the leading contact center and fulfillment operations in the country. In addition to their business success, the Shoosters have maintained philanthropic involvement with a variety of organizations. The preserve was dedicated to this community-minded couple on May 7, 2010.
Lafayette Hart Park – One of the last neighborhood parks operated by the County was originally known as Washington Park when it opened in 1974. In 1992, it was rededicated in commemoration of Lafayette Hart, one of the leaders of the Washington Park Civic Association and a driving force in efforts to establish a county park in his neighborhood.
Markham Park & Target Range – The largest regional park in the County is named for the late C. Robert Markham, who was briefly the County’s property appraiser until his death in September 1966. His better-known son, William, held the same position from 1968 until his death in 2004.
Reverend Samuel Delevoe Park – When Broward County acquired this property in 1975, it was known as River Bend Park because of its location on the North Fork of the New River. It was renamed in 1979 in honor of the Reverend Samuel Delevoe, one of Fort Lauderdale’s first black police officers, who later became a community activist, politician, businessman, civil rights leader, and street minister. He was fatally shot in April 1977. In conjunction with the Broward County Commission’s rededication of the park on November 11, 1979, the governor proclaimed the day as Sam Delevoe Day.
Snake Warrior’s Island Natural Area– This natural area, which opened in January 2001 and was partially funded through the 2000 Safe Parks and Land Preservation Bond Program, was named for Chitto Tustenuggee, the legendary Indian warrior who once camped there. It is the site of the oldest documented Seminole settlement in the eastern Everglades.
By the Numbers
- Acreage – Nearly 6,500 acres
- Campgrounds – 5 (C.B. Smith Park, Easterlin Park, Markham Park & Target Range, Quiet Waters Park, T.Y. Park)
- Disc Golf Courses - 5 (Brian Piccolo Sports Park & Velodrome, Easterlin Park, Markham Park & Target Range, Plantation Heritage Park, Tradewinds Park & Stables)
- Largest Park – Anne Kolb Nature Center – 1,501 acres (runner-up: Markham Park & Target Range – 669 acres)
- Natural Area Sites Currently Open – 12 (Crystal Lake Sand Pine Scrub, Deerfield Highlands Nature Preserve, Helene Klein Pineland Preserve, Highlands Scrub Natural Area, Hillsboro Pineland Natural Area, Military Trail Natural Area, Pine Island Ridge Natural Area at Tree Tops Park, Saw Palmetto Natural Area, Snake Warrior’s Island Natural Area, Tall Cypress Natural Area, West Creek Pineland Natural Area, Woodmont Natural Area)
- Nature Centers – 5 (Anne Kolb Nature Center, Deerfield Island Park, Fern Forest Nature Center, Long Key Natural Area& amp; Nature Center, Secret Woods Nature Center)
- Neighborhood Parks – 6 (Boulevard Gardens Community Center, Franklin Park, Lafayette Hart Park, Reverend Samuel Delevoe Park, Roosevelt Gardens Park, Sunview Park)
- Regional Parks – 20 (Boaters Park, Brian Piccolo Sports Park & Velodrome, C.B. Smith Park, Central Broward Regional Park & Stadium, Deerfield Island Park, Easterlin Park, Everglades Holiday Park, Fern Forest Nature Center, Hollywood North Beach Park, Long Key Natural Area & Nature Center, Markham Park & Target Range, Miramar Pineland, Plantation Heritage Park, Quiet Waters Park, Secret Woods Nature Center, Tradewinds Park & Stables, Tree Tops Park, T.Y. Park, Vista View Park, West Lake Park/Anne Kolb Nature Center)
- Smallest Park – Boulevard Gardens Community Center – 0.6 acre (runner-up: Lafayette Hart Park – 1.6 acres)
- Water Parks –4 (Paradise Cove at C.B. Smith Park, Tropical Splash at Central Broward Regional Park & Stadium, Splash Adventure at Quiet Waters Park, Castaway Island at T.Y. Park)
- A.K.A. – previous names of County parks: C.B. Smith Park – Snake Creek Park; Easterlin Park – Cypress Park; Lafayette Hart Park – Washington Park; Reverend Samuel Delevoe Park - River Bend Park; Tree Tops Park – Snead Tract
- Capacity of aquarium at Anne Kolb Nature Center Exhibit Hall – 3,500 gallons
- Date the Parks and Recreation Division was established – February 1956
- First regional park – Easterlin Park
- Highest man-made elevation in Broward County – Vista View Park (65 feet above sea level)
- Highest natural elevation in Broward County – Pine Island Ridge Natural Area (29 feet above sea level)
- Largest butterfly park in the world – Butterfly World at Tradewinds Park
- Largest regional park – Markham Park & Target Range (669 acres)
- Number of butterflies on view at Butterfly World at Tradewinds Park & Stables – at least 10,000
- Number of species of fern found at Fern Forest Nature Center – more than 30
- Number of species of mangrove found at Anne Kolb Nature Center/West Lake Park – 3 (black, red, and white)
- Only cable water-skiing – Ski Rixen USA at Quiet Waters Park
- Only observatory and target range – Markham Park & Target Range
- Only equestrian stables – Tradewinds Park & Stables
- Only island parks – Deerfield Island Park and Snake Warrior’s Island Natural Area
- Only park to have had a zoo at one time – Markham Park & Target Range
- Only stadium – Central Broward Regional Park & Stadium
- Only velodrome – Brian Piccolo Sports Park & Velodrome
- Parks accessible only by boat – Boaters Park and Deerfield Island Park
- Previous landowner of what is now Tree Tops Park – Golfer Sam Snead
- Previous landowner of peninsula that once included what is now Deerfield Island Park – Gangster Al Capone
- Shelter names, North Tradewinds Park – after breeds of horse: Appaloosa, Belgian, Clydesdale, Shetland
- Shelter names, South Tradewinds Park – after butterflies: Atala, Buckeye, Crescent, Daggerwing, Elfin, Fritillary, Grandiosa
- Smallest regional park – Boaters Park (6.5 acres)
- What T.Y. stands for – Topeekeegee Yugnee (Seminole for “meeting or gathering place”)