By Jill Fox
The discussion about the newly proposed park at Wednesday evening’s Parkland City Commission meeting was anything but passive.
A dozen residents from the neighborhoods bordering its future location showed up prepared to voice their concerns regarding the Passive Park, which will occupy three acres along the north side of Holmberg Road, immediately east of Covered Bridge Park.
In the first phase of the project, removing overgrown invasive vegetation took place in October 2019, followed by public outreach.
Efforts from the city included focus groups, social media posts, banners, and tents at events, including the Parkland farmers’ market.
However, residents felt it was too little too late.
At the commission meeting on March 4, one resident said they are getting the feeling that this is a done deal, and they aren’t being heard, while another said, this project got way ahead of itself before the community was told about it.
“I hope going forward, projects like this will be more advertised for public input,” said Bruce, a resident of Pine Tree Estates.
Between the public meeting held in January and feedback on the City of Parkland website, residents’ raised the following concerns: an increase in traffic, safety and security, privacy, park maintenance and the addition of a parking lot.
“There are consequences of developing a park adjacent to the busiest street in Parkland,” said Nicole, of Country Point Estates.
After staff presented their findings to the commission in January, changes were made, including the size and look of the parking lot, and the addition of more native trees and a berm.
But at Wednesday’s meeting, angry and confused residents of the communities bordering the park spoke out.
“It’s going to bring too much traffic, potential accidents, and the tremendous amount of traffic will put us all at risk,” said Robert, from Country Place.
Some meeting-goers were visibly upset as they pleaded with the commission over their safety and privacy once the enhancements take place.
Kimberly from Country Place expressed her concern over the parking lot.
“I can’t sleep at night when I think about someone walking into my backyard,” she said.
Allison, who has lived in Country Place since 1991, said, “You’re opening our development up for people to see into our homes. We don’t want a parking lot!”
Although the commission reiterated that they appreciated residents coming out, Mayor Christine Hunschofsky had to remind the audience multiple times not to applaud or cheer, explaining they abide by a certain decorum in City Hall.
Broward Sheriff’s Office Captain Chris Mulligan spoke about safety and security at the park, lighting, and visibility and stressed there should be no additional traffic concerns.
Once residents expressed their concerns about safety, he researched the community of Whittier Oaks, which borders Terramar Park. He reported that since 2017, only one incident had occurred at a home bordering the park, and in that case, a car door was left unlocked.
Commissioner Stacy Kagan told attendees, “We are trying to enhance, not to drive people into your community or cause you any harm.”
Jodi from Country Point Estates said, “I don’t feel so safe anymore. You’re taking that away from me.”
Despite the residents’ concerns, the process will move forward, with the next step of land surveying beginning in April, followed by design development in May.
Construction on the park will start in February of 2021, with a proposed completion by the end of the year.