Parkland does not intend to build a new park in the wedge exclusively for special needs but will look at reconfiguring Terramar Park to make it the main destination for sports programs for special-needs children and young adults.
The city currently has more acres of park space than what is required by the county or the city’s comprehensive plan, but officials want to ensure additional park space in the 1,800-acre wedge. Currently, only 12 acres have been set aside for parks in the area.
At a recent workshop, officials also supported retrofitting existing parks in the city to make them universally accessible. Future parks built in the city will be accessible to both special-needs and typical people.
Mayor Michael Udine was all for making all existing parks in the city accessible to people with special needs. “I am not sure if the city is going to be able to purchase land in the wedge to build a park that is just a special-needs park,” he said. “I see the special-needs programs are outgrowing their field space at Quigley Park.”
The city has plans to expand Pine Trails Park so that it serves as the regional park for residents in the wedge, but Vice Mayor Dave Rosenof wants to see more land set aside for parks in the area. “We only have 12 acres; that seems like an awfully low number for 1,800 acres. We need small parks in the wedge.”
Jeb Neiwood, founder of the buddies program that pairs special-needs and typical children, said the city would be missing an opportunity if it focused only on making all parks accessible to all.
“We need one showcase location, where we can really pull out all the stops and build something that hasn’t been built anywhere else,” Neiwood said. “If money is the issue, we can fundraise like crazy, and we can unite the community in that effort. I don’t want to see you miss this opportunity.
“I know we are one Parkland, but the feeling in the city is that all the panache and the fun stuff is occurring in the western part of the city and not a lot of neat stuff is happening in the east side of the city,” he said. “You have the possibility of completely uniting the city.”
Broward County requires the city to ensure three acres of park space for every 1,000 residents. Parkland has set a higher standard and wants a minimum of 10 acres of park space for 1,000 residents. The city currently exceeds the county’s minimum standard by 284 acres and its own by 109 acres. The city’s population is expected to grow to 40,000 by 2030, but the city has enough park space already that its comprehensive plan does not require it to add more acreage.