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Coral Springs was once known as the "city in the country," but
as this upscale community of 115,000 nears build out, cow pastures and open
space are a thing of the past. Home again to the PGA Tour's prestigious Honda
Classic, this sprawling city that reaches west to the Everglades will soon
have a ritzy 224-room Radisson hotel and conference center in addition to
its tournament courses and clay tennis courts. The city is already known for
its elaborate water sports complex and ice skating arena that draw athletes
from around the country. Parks, shops, malls and other amenities make family
Coral Springs works hard to burnish its image as the place with the best of everything. It has long been run with corporate ideals in mind: Residents are "customers" here.
Politicians regularly survey residents to determine their level of satisfaction with local government. And city officials monitor their employees by making random phone calls to make sure they are answered within three rings. The city's devotion to Total Quality Management earned the Governor's Sterling Award for Quality in 1997, the state's highest award for organizational excellence.The focus on image in Coral Springs may be a legacy of its creation by a subsidiary of industrial giant Westinghouse, which founded the city in 1963 and went on to sell Coral Springs as the "city in the country."As suburban communities go, the city is well planned. Parks were built near residences, and gasoline stations and shops are along major roadways. Traffic flows fairly easily, even though Coral Springs is one of the county's most populous cities.
What do you get when you cross a rural "Wild West" town with
one of the nation's largest educational complexes? The answer: Davie, one
of Broward County's most eclectic communities.
Incorporated in 1961, Davie is an oddity. Located in densely populated Southwest Broward, Davie is one of the county's greenest communities. Town residents voted to pay for a $10-million open space program in 1989 to preserve pastures and pines and retain Davies' small-town image. Many of the town's residential areas are zoned at one house per acre.
Adding to the rustic feel is the western theme of downtown Davie. There, town ordinances require buildings to feature signs and architecture more common to 19th-century frontier towns than urban South Florida.
Known for its horse and cattle ranches, Davie is where many prize racing and jumping horses are still bred. The town even has a rodeo arena, which is host to a variety of equestrian events throughout the year.
Davie is also home to the South Florida Educational Center, a 650-acre complex founded in 1960 on an abandoned airfield. More than 37,000 students attend school daily at the center, which includes five colleges - Broward Community College, Nova Southeastern University and branches of Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University and the University of Florida - a vocational center, two high schools, four middle schools and four elementary schools.
Davies' history dates to the turn of the century, when settlers began buying land for $2 an acre in The First Developed Town in the Everglades. Many had just arrived from helping to build the Panama Canal, and the area was dubbed "Zona" because of its similarities to the canal zone.
In 1909, Colorado millionaire R.P. Davie bought 28,000 acres in the area, and Zona was renamed in his honor 10 years later. An extensive drainage project paved the way for future growth.
Today, Davie's 42 square miles are home to a variety of neighborhoods, shopping centers and commercial areas. The town has 60,000 residents and is expected to grow to 75,000 by early next century.
Davie has a town administrator/council form of government. The Town Council meets on the first and third Wednesdays of each month at 7:30 p.m.
Margate founder Jack Marquese considered his town a gateway to the western
part of the county, so in 1965 he used part of his surname and a noun to create
the city name, according to records.The gate has been replaced by a pair of
shopping malls that flank the city's main portal.
The city is grappling with major redevelopment issues. Vacant shopping centers and a hodge-podge of signs along major thoroughfares are among the eyesores city officials hope to improve. To get the job done, the city has created a Community Redevelopment Agency, and is trying to develop a plan to revitalize and beautify the deteriorating business districts.
Like many older cities, Margate is faced with a flat tax base because little land is left to develop. Also, a large number of condo dwellers pay little or no taxes after a $25,000 homestead exemption.Joining in a growing trend, Margate has begun charging developers a one-time fee per house and tucking away the money in a fund for future school needs, such as purchasing portables.
Still, economic development is not at a standstill. Margate is home to a large senior population, and boasts a city-run senior center that offers an enviable variety of programs and services. The city also offers one of the most-sophisticated shuttle bus services in Broward County.
Margate's Fire Department is one of the city's jewels
Tucked up in the piney woods of Broward's northwest corner, with Palm Beach
County to one side and the Everglades to the other, Parkland is a study in
contrasts. It's a city whose character and inhabitants would seemingly be
at odds, yet oddly enough aren't.
It's a forest town, and trees predominate on land formerly owned by large cattle ranchers. Parkland's main drag, Holmberg Road, is a two-lane blacktop whose 35 mph speed limit is strictly enforced by police with little other crime to pursue.
City Hall is a picturesque conglomerate of portable buildings under the pines. It's home to Sophie the Town Cat and the kind of friendly employees still found in rare pockets of rural America.
In Parkland's western reaches is the Ranches, a neighborhood of large, old-time farm spreads where nearly everyone rides a horse. The seven-square-mile city is primarily residential - it has only two businesses - and city officials jealously safeguard Parkland's rural mystique. Indeed, city law prohibits any structure that doesn't reflect Parkland's ``park like'' image.
Parkland's 10,500 residents, however, are anything but country folk. Their average median income is $92,472. They live in homes with an average price tag of $822,200, and have 3.4 cars. More than 40 percent have bachelor's degrees or higher. Median age: 34.
Presiding over this marriage of sophistication and simplicity is a City Commission made up of four commissioners and a mayor. Commissioners are elected from districts, and the mayor citywide. A professional city manager hired by the commission oversees the city's day-to-day operations.
The commission meets at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at City Hall, 6500 Parkside Drive.
Development, which hovers between 10 percent and 12 percent, has been the prevailing issue in recent years. The commission persists in strict reviews of each new development and - some say unfairly - rejects any that don't conform to the "park like" atmosphere.
The strict codes and strict enforcement make it tough on homeowners. But
they see the value. It keeps their neighborhoods attractive and keeps property
The U.S. Census Bureau calls Pembroke Pines the third-fastest growing in the nation. The only cities growing faster are Henderson, Nev., and Chandler, Ariz.
Although car dealerships, pizza parlors and gas stations seem to sprout up on every street, the space set aside for commercial purposes is limited. The city's blueprint for growth, which was adopted in the 1980s, specifies how much land is set aside for every purpose, and where the land is.
About 1,647 acres, or 7.4 percent of the city's land area, is set aside for commercial use.
The blueprint sets aside 50 percent, 22,176 acres, for homes and apartments.
The city's rules and regulations are created by the five-member, part-time City Commission and enforced by the city manager and his staff.
The commission includes the mayor, who is elected citywide every four years, and four commissioners who each represent an individual geographic district and are also elected for four years.
Plantation is an old-fashioned town of nice houses, neat landscaping, lots
of parks and programs for kids.
It also has a bustling business district and shopping core along University Drive that includes the Broward Mall and a Macy's.
The city was founded by Frederick C. Peters, who bought 10,000 acres here for an average of $25 an acre. The original settlers had grown to 475 by the time the city was incorporated in 1953.
The name Plantation is believed to have come from the unofficial title for the area in the early 1900s, stemming from an attempt to create a rice plantation out west. The experiment failed.
Another version of the city name derives from original developers wanting to build plantation like homes on large parcels to lure the wealthy of Fort Lauderdale out west.
The city, one of the oldest in West Broward, apparently capitalized on the name several decades ago by building a brick City Hall with white pillars, reminiscent of the Old South plantations.
One major political change occurred here in 1999. Mayor Frank Veltri, the top administrator for 24 years, stepped down. Plantation has had the only strong mayoral form of government in Broward County.
Today, Plantation has major employers that include American Express, Motorola, Florida Power & Light Co. and Westside Regional and Plantation General hospitals.
One of Broward's larger cities, Sunrise has shed the past and is becoming
an entertainment hub, with a giant mall, a hockey arena and concert venue,
and a cluster of restaurants and family entertainment.
The city, with a population now of about 78,000, was incorporated in 1961 as Sunrise Golf Village by Norman Johnson, who used an upside-down house to attract buyers.
Six years later, John Lomelo Jr., a pardoned felon, became mayor. Through annexation, the city grew westward, reaching the Everglades and dropping south of State Road 84.
While mayor, Lomelo survived a criminal charge in 1967 that later was dropped, several IRS audits and 14 state attorney's investigations. He was convicted in 1985 of defrauding taxpayers of $52,000 and trying to extort money from a Maryland nursing home company.
For years, the city has worked to shed a reputation for corruption. The city is now run by a professional city manager and is governed by a mayor and four commissioners elected citywide.
In 1998, the city's regional clout grew when the new Florida Panthers hockey arena, the National Car Rental Center, opened. The arena -- a partnership among companies lead by local sports mogul H. Wayne Huizenga, Broward County and Sunrise -- draws top national music artists, wrestling, soccer, football and circuses. A road behind the arena was named in 1998 after City Manager Pat Salerno, who was credited with obtaining the arena. Across the street, Sawgrass Mills draws 25 million visitors a year, mall officials say. They and tourism officials say that makes it the state's second-most popular tourist attraction, after Walt Disney World.
Backwards, the city's name spells Car-A-Mat, the name of a chain of car washes
once owned by developer and city founder Kenneth A. Behring.
But this city of 50,051 residents is far from washed up.
Now the ninth largest city in Broward County and the 35th largest city in Florida, Tamarac offers 649 acres of freshwater canals and lakes, a $250,000 roller hockey rink, nine private golf courses and an expanding industrial park with access to the Sawgrass Expressway.
Known as a haven for retirees, Tamarac is grappling with changing demographics.
The city offers a sophisticated mini-bus system that provides retirees with rides to doctors and grocery stores and a variety of parks and recreation programs for its growing young population.
But the mix of young and old has also been the source of neighborhood clashes as young families move into homes in neighborhoods once limited to seniors only.
Property taxes are fairly low, and the city is striving to broaden its tax base by developing Land Section 7 into an upscale commerce park. The 500-acre stretch west of Nob Hill Road along the Sawgrass Expressway is already home to several major corporations.
The city contracts with the Broward Sheriff's Office for police protection and has one of the lowest crime rates in Broward County.
The city is chock full of condo-dwellers who pay little, if any, property taxes after claiming the $25,000 homestead exemption. To spread out the rising cost of funding emergency medical services, the city levies nearly $80 a month in fees.
City officials are struggling to satify both age groups: retirees in the city want a senior center and the younger residents want a community center.
Founders of the new city saw what they felt caused problems and expenses
in other cities and did what they could to avoid them.
So when Weston became a city on Sept. 3, 1996, their goal was to hire a limited number of personnel and contract just about all city services, from police to fire, from planning to administration. About 63 percent of the city's 1998-1999 general budget, or $9.6 million, was designated to pay contractors.
Weston's three employees are the city manager, an assistant to the city manager and the city clerk.
The city of 22 square miles with 1,900 acres of interconnected, man-made waterways and 38,610 people is unusual in other ways, also.
For example, about 90 percent of the residents live in communities governed by city like homeowner associations. Most of the city was planned, developed and built by a single company, Arvida/JMB Partners.
The developer put virtually every one of the individual neighborhoods in a mandatory homeowner association -- more than 35 of them -- and one master association to maintain the community in its image.
That's why Weston likely will continue to have a neat, manicured, lushly landscaped look for years to come.
It also means that homeowners must pay the two associations for maintaining public roads, money that otherwise would go to the city government.
Although the city is growing rapidly, it is nearing its anticipated buildout with 45,000 to 50,000 residents. Weston's estimated population when it became a city was 24,910. Between then and the official 1998 estimate, its population increased 55 percent, including the addition of the Bonaventure area.
Arvida gives the average age of residents as 37 and the average income as $100,000. About 27 percent of the population is Hispanic, with the proportion believed to be increasing. Arvida also says about 18 percent of the residents are younger than 10 years old, half between 30 and 59 and 11 percent over 65.
About half the residents moved to Weston from elsewhere in Broward County and the other half from Miami-Dade County. Very few came from outside the area.
Weston has a city manager form of government. Although department heads aren't city employees, the city manager can determine whom the Broward Sheriff's Office and Broward County Fire Department assign as commanders for Weston.
The commission consists of four commissioners and a mayor and meets the first and third Mondays of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Weston Hills Country Club, 2600 Country Club Way.
Coconut palms and creeks abound, but no, there is no particular water course
that gave the city its name when it incorporated as Coconut Creek 30 years
ago. No matter. The image of swaying palm and lazy streamlet, as well as early
master planning, helped catapult Broward's then-youngest city into Florida's
fastest growing municipality throughout the '80s.
In the past decade, for example, the 11-square-mile city grew by 25,000 residents and 12,000 new homes. Its population stands at about 37,000; by 2020, when Coconut Creek is projected to hit build out, that figure is expected to reach 67,000. About half the residents are employed, and 21 percent have college degrees. The median age here is 50, with residents over 60 making up a substantial portion of the population. Wynmoor Village alone is home to nearly 10,000 retirees. Another large planned community, The Township, also boasts a significant percentage of retirees. These groups active in community affairs influence the city's direction.
Coconut Creek also has sprouted single-family homes, rental properties and mobile home parks. All must adhere to strict building and landscape regulations set by city administrators determined not to make the same mistakes as the county's older cities. As a result, Coconut Creek possesses a freshness, a clean and modern feel, that's been lost to its older neighbors.
The North Campus of Broward Community College provides cultural opportunities as well as a home to 18,000 students. There are playgrounds, athletic fields, nature preserves and activity centers in the 14 parks throughout town. Tradewinds Park, a 540-acre county facility, is in the city's northern half.
City government consists of a five-member commission, elected from districts, with the mayor chosen each year from among the panel. A city manager oversees the various city departments and handles day-to-day operations. The commission meets at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 4800 W. Copans Road, on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month.
Deerfield Beach is an older city where the population is getting younger
and the elected officials are trying to improve what they already have.
From its early days as a farming town, this coastal community has grown into a city of nearly 50,000 people.
With big senior housing complexes such as Century Village, the average age of Deerfield Beach's residents was 48.7 in 1990, compared to 38.7 countywide. But officials say the population is getting younger.
More than 85 percent of the city is built out, so officials are focusing on redevelopment rather than growth to generate tax revenue.
Undeveloped land along Dixie Highway, vacant stores and high turnover of businesses have prompted worries that the city's commercial areas may be heading for economic trouble. So the city is working to stimulate growth in the business district.
And in looking to its future, Deerfield is using its greatest asset - the ocean. The city is planning a 2.5-acre beachfront park with native plants, a boardwalk, a dune system, a sea turtle educational display facility, an observation deck and added parking.
The city traces its beginnings as a municipality to 1890, when a settlement called Hillsboro was set up near the Hillsboro River. The city was incorporated in 1925 and named Deerfield for the deer that grazed along its waterways.
The city's rules and regulations are the responsibility of the five-member City Commission. The commission also hires the city manager, who implements the commission's directives and is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the city. City Hall is at 150 NE Second Ave. The commission meets there at 7 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of every month, except for a summer recess for most of July and August
Residents like Hillsboro Beach the way it is.
"People want the town to stay the same," said David Denman, the town clerk and chief town administrator.
The 3.2 mile-long town has no congestion and hardly any crime. And almost every one of the 1,761 residents lives within a short walk of the ocean.
Some live in the most beautiful and expensive homes in Broward County. The 60 single-family houses on so-called Millionaire's Mile pay an average of $42,000 a year in property taxes.
Most of the remaining residents live in condominiums.
Hillsboro Beach is about 900 feet at its widest point. The only way in or out is along its only major road, State Road A1A.
The city Web site sums it up: "Lighthouse Point is a small town and
wishes to remain so."
Like many communities in east Broward County, the town is virtually built out. When the City Commission approved a 21-town house development at Tillotson Square in 1998, it settled the fate of the last large piece of undeveloped land in town.
The community takes its name from the nearby Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse. It is a community of bikeways, waterways, yachts and lavish houses. Eighty percent of the residences are single-family homes, many valued at $200,000. The most expensive ones have docks out back on deep-water canals.
Many residents are churchgoers -- the most conspicuous landmarks in town are church steeples -- and many dont have children living with them. Those who do send their kids to schools in Pompano Beach or Deerfield Beach because there are no public schools here.
Incorporated in 1956, Lighthouse Point has a strong-mayor government, with the mayor and five commissioners responsible for running the city. The administrative assistant to the mayor is largely responsible for day-to-day operations.
In 1980, Pompano Beach was Broward County's third-largest city.
Now, with 75,000 residents, it is the seventh-largest city as growth in some of the county's western cities has surged. But the City Commission is aggressively working to annex large unincorporated areas with 37,000 residents that would push it back up the list again.
The second-oldest city in Broward County, Pompano Beach was incorporated in 1908. It is named after pompano, a once-abundant species of fish caught off its shores. The city has 22 miles of waterways.
In the late 1890s, vegetable farmers braved swamps and mosquitoes to settle here because they could ship their goods north on Henry Flagler's new railroad. Tourism started to develop in the 1930s, but little changed until the population booms of the 1960s and 1970s. By the 1990s, though, the city almost stopped growing.
In part because of its stagnant growth, Pompano Beach had the county's highest tax rate in 1997, but it dropped to 12th in 1998 after efforts were made to trim the budget. Attracting new business is a priority for Pompano Beach, which is home to the Goodyear blimp. Unlike Fort Lauderdale, the city has no big office buildings.
The city does have lots of strip malls, but some are nearly empty and struggling.The city operates under a commission-manager form of government. The five-member commission, representing separate districts, chooses one of its members as mayor, sets city policy and hires the manager, who is responsible for day-to-day operations. The commission holds a workshop meeting at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month, and regular meetings at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at City Hall, 100 W. Atlantic Blvd.
Greater Ft. LauderdaleThis "Venice of America" once was the mecca for beachfront thrills. By 1953, about 15,000 students were coming to the area during Spring Break. Just a year later, that number grew to 20,000. And the city was glorified in 1960 with the film Where the Boys Are. The sister of current Mayor Jim Naugle was an extra in that movie. By 1985, Spring Break attracted 350,000 students.
But then, officials decided the city needed a change. More of an upscale and improved image with economic strength and cultural vitality was sought. After all, city leaders reasoned, Fort Lauderdale is home to 150,000 residents, Browards largest city and the seat of county government.
Many projects around the beach and Intracoastal Waterway are planned, under way or just completed. Those developments are adding more than 1,900 condo units, hotel rooms, time-shares and apartments, more than 190,000 square feet of shops, offices and restaurants and tens of millions of dollars to the tax rolls.
Trendy Las Olas Boulevard, with numerous outdoor dining spots added in recent years, boasts of being a prime dining and shopping district. In the citys quest to become more upscale, the countys first public helistop a helicopter landing pad was scheduled to be erected in spring of 1999 to attract more business into the downtown area.
The long-awaited Las Olas Riverfront entertainment complex on the New River opened in 1998, drawing more people downtown.
Besides economic redevelopment, the city is concentrating on its neighborhoods and parks. Residents are getting new parks and improvements to existing ones through a voter-approved $35 million bond issue. And aggressive code enforcement is intended to clean up neighborhoods.
The Fort Lauderdale Historical Society says Seminole Indians first appeared in the area in the 1820s. The city began to evolve from an agricultural community to a resort town in the 1920s. The city is governed by a mayor elected citywide and four commissioners elected by district. The commission meets the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at City Hall, 100 N. Andrews Ave.
This town, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1997, is dominated by
beachside tourism and retirees, although younger families have been moving
into the area.
Many residents are also owners of small hotels that make up much of the beachside downtown.
Despite the town's modest size, it has numerous civic organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Main Street Inc., the Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Merchant Association, the Property Owners Association, the Garden Club and the Fire Fighters Optimist Club.
Recently the town added about 1,800 residents to its population by annexing unincorporated property to the north that included four large condominiums.
Less than half the town's 7,784 people are full-time residents.
The Town Commission meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 4501 Ocean Drive. Meetings are televised over Comcast Cable. Municipal events are often held at Jarvis Hall adjacent to Town Hall.