This week in the Living in Oakland Park Facebook Group, a lively discussion took place regarding a prime piece of land that everyone in the city and surrounding cities has been wondering about for some time: Greenleaf Park and City Hall. As Oakland Park grows, all eyes are on us as we are in the enviable and unique position of developing a new downtown amidst a global pandemic.
An Oakland Park resident took to Facebook to capture the moments when a survey crew was hard at work near City Hall and Greenleaf Park: “Bye bye Greenleaf Park, hello neighbors”, the post starts. Frustrations that community members were not getting answers were also mentioned in the original post, which has since been updated.
“City Manager David Hebert and Assistant City Manager Jennifer Frastai, as well as commissioners have been in contact with me”, the group member states in the latest update. “I want to thank you neighbors for expressing your thoughts on the park and what is going on in the city. While many of us are excited about the positive changes in our community, I’m glad to see this posts’ reactions from our city leaders. It showed that together, we can ultimately make the change that we want to see.”
Many residents were concerned with an Oakland Park staple located at Greenleaf park. Which is, perhaps, a metaphor to the old and new viewpoints. Many shared fond memories of the large tree that resides within the park grounds while taking a moment to share their memories.
“I’ve always admired that beautiful old tree”, Patti Portman stated. “I sat under that tree waiting for the bus when I was a kid, this is horrible”, said Lori Quintero.
The juxtaposition continued in the post as some residents expressed a blended viewpoint. “It will be interesting to see what the plan is. Ideally a mix of both. I like green space but also lots of apartments bringing people and life to downtown”, stated in a post by Lloyd Stephens.
Local leaders also chimed in when residents began to tag them. Current Mayor and Vice Mayor, Mathew Sparks and Jane Bolin, took a moment to explain that plans are merely in the works and that nothing is set in stone. Residents also called on the opinions of upcoming Oakland Park commission candidates Mitch Rosenwald and Robert Thompson.
Matt Sparks: “The City Hall was proposed in 2017, I ran in 2016 so at that time I had no clear plan as to what the City and the Body of The Commision had intended. As for the Library (specifically) after the demographic research was done it made sense to me to move it to the proposed location with all the amenities it would provide in one central location.
I want everyone to know that NOTHING will be decided until this is COMPLETELY vetted with the residents. I propose that we have multiple community outreach gatherings on weekends and evenings so we get a full scope of what the residents expectations are. As for the above photos, they are simply surveying the land, there is NO CLEAR PLAN at this time. If I serve another term there may be discussion, We may very well move City Hall back to it’s current location. Remember, if the new City Hall is approved, they will not move into it until 2025……So there are 5 years to have this discussion, and please know anyone can reach me anytime my phone is my cell. Yes, this year it has been ringing more often but, I am HERE FOR YOU.
I’m not disagreeing or arguing with you it’s just that We discussed the theory of a movement of City Hall, but City Hall to go somewhere to get out of its own way, all of the other components we weren’t even aware of until 2017. I would be so happy to sit down and talk with you to discuss this and if I shared it with you it must’ve been after I was elected. But as to whether or not City Hall will return to its current location has not been decided and like I said, The most important thing about this thread is that it is clear that we “the entire Commission” need to take a hard look at what the residents want. I will be mentioning this in commission. As to the City Manager I have already aired my feelings in public about my own frustrations…”.
Jane Bolin: “I appreciate all of the passion expressed in these comments. My purpose in responding is to clarify the original post. The presence of surveyors does not mean decisions have been made about the city hall or the OP3D area.
At the August 5th meeting the Commission approved Zyscovich for the City Hall Redevelopment Site Analysis. You can access the details of this item here.
Is the City Hall site being redeveloped and considered now? Yes. On August 5th the Commission approved the beginning phases of planning. Have any decisions been made by the Commission about what will happen to the site? No. There is a process for engagement and citizen participation. We can work with @LivingIn OaklandPark to make sure that everyone is clear about the next steps”.
Mitch Rosenwald: “As many of you know, I am also President of the Board of the Corals of Oakland Park Neighborhood Association. A few years ago, the Board passed a resolution to PRESERVE this parcel including Greenleaf Park! While the Omega Church property can provide additional park space, I will personally do all I can to preserve Greenleaf Park. It is the only significant park that the city owns in the Corals. Smart growth is fine but smart growth means Smart! “
Robert B. Thompson: “As I said, I would get some information to share here. In 2018 the City hired a consultant to discuss and plan future use of downtown and City Hall property, during this time the City also bought the Omega church property. There was a Stakeholders [sic] meeting with COPNA members, Dean Sirulnik and City staff to discuss what the future plans should look like. The topics that came out of this were Economic Development, Neighborhood continuity, and MORE park space. 3 months ago the contract to survey the property was awarded and today was the start of the process to see the actual portion of the property that belongs to the City. So this project has not been a sudden thing that was just thought up. It has been a long time thing that started some 3 to 4 years ago. Because of how things work with the City, people forget about projects that have been in the long process of approval to start to finish…”.
The post proved that the residents of Oakland Park will certainly keep its leaders on their toes. It showed that the future of Oakland park is being shaped as we speak and that local community leaders and residents alike are stepping up to an ever-present demand of instant information and answers.
Stay tuned to LivingInOaklandPark.com for more information about the future of Greenleaf Park and other areas of our city! Sign up for the Living in Oakland Park Newsletter and be the first to know!
Rhiannon Samoyedny was born and raised in South Florida. She has lived in Oakland Park for over 25 years and purchased her home in Garden Acres in 2012 where she resides with her husband, two teenaged boys, a few rescue cats, and her dog.
Her professional career began as a project manager and estimator for a small Oakland Park construction company and she later went on to earn her degree in Court Reporting, where she later incorporated her own small business RS Reporting, Inc.
She has a passion for gardening and attends many horticulture classes and workshops. She is also an LGA (Local Government Academy) graduate, class of 2019, and an active community volunteer and activist. You can usually find her around town at various Oakland Park meetings and events with her notebook, so be sure to say hello.