West Lake Park is situated in southeastern Broward County, occupying a three-mile strip of mangrove estuary and uplands immediately west of the Intracoastal Waterway within the cities of Hollywood and Dania Beach. West Lake has 47,800 feet of waterfront with an additional 20,600 feet of mangrove-fringed shoreline along the interior waterways.
The ecological importance of the relationships between mangroves, our coastal waters, and the adjacent uplands cannot be overemphasized. West Lake is the largest remaining mangrove ecosystem in the 85-mile, highly developed urban coastal zone from Miami Beach to West Palm Beach. This vital coastal land provides valuable natural resources and significant recreational opportunities to urban residents and visitors.
West Lake Park can be accessed from both the north and south sides of Sheridan Street (west of the Intracoastal bridge) and from the Intracoastal Waterway. On the north side you'll find the Anne Kolb Nature Center, which has its own Web page. An admission fee of $1.50 per person (ages 5 and under free) is in effect on the south side on weekends and county holidays when the park is open. There is no entry fee at Anne Kolb, but there is a $2 fee to visit the nature center’s exhibit hall. Both West Lake and Anne Kolb are part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.
Two small shelters (capacity 20-40) with water, electricity, grills, and tables, and six interpretive shelters (capacity 15) with grills and tables. Patrons must reserve the use of the shelters in advance. A cash security deposit is required on the day of use to ensure that patrons clean up the shelter area. More information about shelters.
Playgrounds: Two playgrounds are available on the south side. The west playground is fenced and popular with toddlers. The Manatee Play Area, which takes the shape of its namesake, features a ship, swings, and a spray water feature, so bring swim suits and a beach towel.
Fishing Platform: Located on Tarpon Lake, this area is fully accessible for observation and fishing. Catch-and-release is encouraged and all State of Florida fishing regulations apply.
Boat Dock: From the Intracoastal Waterway, a 175-foot dock is available on a first-come, first-served basis. This area is affected by the tides, so water depth must be considered when docking. Overnight docking is not permitted.
Walking Path: Enjoying walking, running, inline skating, or recreational cycling on 0.8 miles of paved walkways. Pets are welcome but must be on a leash no longer than six feet.
Ball Courts: Four tennis courts, two full-court basketball courts, four racquetball courts, and two sand volleyball courts are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Weather permitting, boat rentals are available Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from the marina, plus Thursdays starting on November 21, 2013. Rental hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the last boat going out at 3:50 p.m. Rental prices are $12 plus tax per hour, $20 plus tax for two hours, or $27 plus tax for four hours. For more information, call the marina at 954-357-5186
. Rental prices include boat, paddles, and U.S Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Ages 16 and 17 require parent/guardian signature to go out alone; ages 15 and under require an adult to be on the boat with them. Waterway Trail Guide brochure
(PDF). Please note: The marina will be open seven days a week from December 26, 2013, through January 5, 2014, as well as from March 24 through March 28, 2014. The marina will be closed the day after Thanksgiving (Friday, November 29, 2013) and on Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25, 2013). West Lake Park Paddling Trails
(PDF) A public boat launch is available for launching personal canoes and kayaks at West Lake Park only; gate admission fees apply on weekends and holidays.
A Little History: There is evidence to suggest that the land that today makes up West Lake Park was used by Seminoles in the early 19th century, and that in July 1840, during the Second Seminole War, there was a serious skirmish there. During the Prohibition era, the waterway to the east of the site was known as Whiskey Creek because it was used by bootleggers from the Bahamas and elsewhere as a route for smuggling liquor. Also in the early '20s - and much more significantly - the area surrounding West Lake was dredged and platted by Joseph W. Young Jr., the man responsible for developing Hollywood in its earliest years. Hundreds of lots were sold to individual buyers throughout the U.S., although the 1926 hurricane and the Great Depression led Young to abandon his ambitious plans.
Flash-forward to 1974, when a new round of development was initiated by Hollywood Inc., only to encounter resistance from a grass-roots movement to preserve the area. That same year an award-winning journalist named Anne Kolb became the first woman elected to the Broward County Commission. Kolb and the Hollywood City Commission became instrumental in the efforts to save the coastal mangrove wetland from development, along with local chapters of such organizations as the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club and other groups such as the Friends of West Lake and the Environmental Coalition.
Four years later, Broward County voters overwhelmingly approved by referendum the expenditure of $7.5 million to help acquire the tract. Commissioner Kolb and other public officials continued lobbying efforts for state money to assist in the purchase, and in 1980 the Florida State Cabinet agreed to appropriate funds. Kolb died in 1981, but the development of the proposed park continued, and in June 1982 West Lake Park opened. The West Lake story continued with the development of the park's Anne Kolb Nature Center, which opened in February 1996.
West Lake Park is also the subject of continuing mitigation. The initial mitigation projects covering more than 230 acres consisted of exotic vegetation removal, land scrapedown to desired elevations for mangrove recruitment, creation of flushing channels, and replanting with mangroves and associated vegetation.
The ongoing mitigation continued slowly but steadily. In February 2000, an environmental engineering firm was hired to prepare a final master mitigation plan for additional improvements to West Lake. The plan was completed, and in April 2004, the South Florida Water Management District issued an environmental resource permit for the proposed improvements to the park. A license was issued by the Broward County Department of Planning and Environmental Protection in June 2004, and a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers was issued in March 2006. Construction drawings for the proposed improvements were completed in December 2007.
Under the final master mitigation plan, 174.3 additional acres within West Lake were to be improved in some fashion, with an emphasis on estuarine ecosystems. Included in the plan were habitat creation and wetland restoration, enhancement, and preservation. Upland spoil areas adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway shoreline of the park have been converted to mangrove, mudflat/tidal pool, tidal channel, seagrass, and maritime hammock communities. Shoreline protection has been installed to protect mangrove wetlands from continued erosion. Exotic plant species have been removed from targeted areas and replanted with native plants.
Construction of the entire 174.3 acres addressed in the final master mitigation plan is being phased in over several years, based on funding availability. Construction of Segment 1, covering 34.1 acres of improvements south of Sheridan Street immediately west of the Intracoastal Waterway, began in April 2010 and was completed in October 2011.
West Lake Park
1200 Sheridan St., Hollywood, FL 33019