By: Jen Russon
A homeowner in Ramblewood South was so distraught over proposed changes to Kiwanis Park and Safety Town; he took his concerns before the city commission.
Alexander Henden, who lives with his family at NW 6th Court, spoke out against constructing a new fire station and expanding the existing nature preserve, a park project he believes will lower his home value.
“I know we can’t stop progress, but please leave our residential area and park the way it was meant to be,” said Henden.
A resident for five years, Henden, complained building a new fire station on the north lot of Kiwanis will ruin his view of green space he can see from his driveway.
“I get emotional about it because I worked 70 hours a week to move from North Lauderdale to a more beautiful city with parks for my kids to play in,” said Henden.
The hospitality specialist formed the group ‘Preserve the Park,’ following a tour he and his neighbors attended hosted by a Parks and Recreation Department employee.
Eighteen residents have since joined Henden, which meets on the Nextdoor app.
“On the tour, they said the new design would take at least four months because so many trees have to be moved — we don’t know if these plans will disrupt the playground and hurt the wildlife, or if those trees will die,” he said.
Attempting to set his mind at ease, Lynn Martzall, Coral Springs Communications Director, said a total of 103 trees are slated to replace old ones at the park.
“We’re removing 26 trees on site, excluding what will need to be cleaned out of the hammock. We will also be replacing 81 trees and 22 palms,” Martzall said.
City Manager Frank Babinec also responded to Henden’s concerns.
“It was our goal to protect the park and re-establish that Hammock area. The goal is to get it back to a healthy, natural state, re-establish the boardwalk that runs through it, and make sure we get rid of the invasive species,” he said, adding the canopy is important, and city architects took Kiwanis’s trees and their replacements — which will be more than double — into consideration.
Fire Station 64, built in the 1970s, was intended for volunteers and required upgrading for Coral Springs firefighters.
Henden, still not convinced, said it did not add up with information from the improvements tour he and his wife attended.
“What they say they want to do, doesn’t add up. If the current fire station has mold, why turn it into a senior center? Why don’t they use the empty Safety Town Building for that?”
Martzall said mold is not the reason for the city building a new station and was not what they conveyed to the resident or any residents they met with regarding the project.
“We believe the building is still useful and can be effectively incorporated into our parks system to expand multi-generational programming.”
She also assured Henden regular programming is set to resume at Safety Town, even as construction gets underway.
“Safety Town has been inoperable due to COVID-19. That is why they are reporting it sits empty,” said Martzall.
Plans for the Kiwanis Park also include a community garden for Ramblewood Middle School — expanding rather than diminishing green space.
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