Broward County Parks & Recreation
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 12.4 million visitors per year.