Tag Archives: Community

County and YMCA of the Palm Beaches Partnering to Bring New Facilities, Amenities to Lake Lytal Park

Caption: Left to right — Commissioner Gregg K. Weiss, Eric Call, Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department Director, Tim Leuliette, Board President, YMCA of the Palm Beaches and Tim Coffield, President & CEO, YMCA of the Palm Beaches

On Tuesday, January 12, the Palm Beach County (PBC) Board of County Commissioners approved a resolution authorizing the YMCA of the Palm Beaches (YMCA) to lease approximately five acres in Lake Lytal Park for 50 years with one 50-year extension option. 

The Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department (PBC Parks) and the YMCA are partnering to bring new facilities, amenities, and improvements to Lake Lytal Park, located at 3645 Gun Club Road in West Palm Beach. PBC Parks is planning to replace the Aquatic Center and relocate it adjacent to the YMCA’s facilities.

The new Aquatic Center inside Lake Lytal Park will include both competition facilities as well as other water-based recreational amenities. Improvements planned by the YMCA include an Olympic-style skate park and training facility, state-of-the-art community center/health and fitness facility, and a child care center.  The design development phase for both the Aquatic Center and the YMCA amenities are expected to commence shortly and last approximately 12 months. The construction of the both the Aquatic Center and the YMCA amenities could commence by late 2021.

The agreement ensures that both PBC Parks and the YMCA construct facilities and infrastructure improvements at their own expense.  The YMCA will be building the Olympic-style skate park and training facility as Phase I, the community center/health and fitness facility as Phase II, and an indoor gymnasium and child care center as Phase III. The YMCA is currently lining up major donors who might want their namesake attached to this essential community center, located along the busiest east-west corridor (Southern Blvd) in Palm Beach County, leaving a legacy for years to come.

“Public-private partnerships between YMCAs and municipal Parks and Recreation Departments are thriving throughout the country. We look forward to this cooperative project at Lake Lytal Park being a shining example of how these types of collaborative relationships can greatly benefit the community,” said Tim Coffield, CEO and President of the YMCA of the Palm Beaches. “We are grateful for the leadership of County staff, the support of our County Commissioners, and we are excited to bring our collective vision to fruition.”

“The possibility to partner with the YMCA of the Palm Beaches to develop and collocate world class recreation facilities at Lake Lytal Park is a distinctive and timely opportunity that will benefit the residents of Palm Beach County for years to come,” said Eric Call, Director, Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department.

In addition, within two years of the county’s completion of the aquatic facility inside Lake Lytal Park, the YMCA will handle staffing, programming, and operational management of the facility, which is projected to significantly reduce PBC Parks’ operational expenses.

Volunteer Spotlight: Eddie Ott

Edward “Eddie” Ott has been a volunteer for 11 years at John Prince Golf Learning Center. He picks up golf balls on the range and helps keep the fire ants under control by surveying the property in the hunt for anthills, so they can extinguish them before they cause patrons harm. He also helps keep the golf greens, green aprons (collars) and fairways in tiptop shape by fixing ball markers and filling divots, keeping them as some of the best in South Florida.

Fellow staff, volunteers and patrons have always said that he has been a pleasure to talk to due to his wealth of experiences and knowledge.

Eddie has always been a very diligent working volunteer. He is kind, optimistic and very cordial to all and a role model to the whole facility.

The biggest personal benefit he’s received as a volunteer with our department? “I get to play golf and work with Geoff!”

Eddie started playing golf at the age of 42 and moved down to Florida from Ohio when he was 50. His previous occupation was an auto mechanic. What’s most interesting is he is 97 years old, who calls 85 year olds ‘kids’. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Carlos “Carlito” Nerys

Carlito was a Green Cay Nature Center Volunteer for more than 7 years

Carlito was known to “do it all”. He not only helped everyday at Green Cay Nature Center maintaining the boardwalk, cleaning, landscaping and more, but he was always willing to lend a hand with animal care and
special projects, and he became a very strong advocate for wildlife conservation. Carlito attended every special event, and was at the nature center every single day.

Being at Green Cay for over 7 years and dedicating nearly 6,500 hours of service, there is so much that Carlito needs be recognized for. He was always dependable and would show up every single day to assist in maintenance of Green Cay Nature Center. No physical task was too much. He would always enthusiastically lend a helping hand. Whether it was fixing something, installing a new nest box, or cleaning up trash in the entire parking lot, Carlito became an asset to our volunteer family.

Always smiling and willing to share with others his latest wildlife discovery, he loved nature and loved to share this passion with every visitor. Carlito was never afraid to get his hands dirty! Working at a nature center is tough work! It is very physically demanding at times,
working in the Florida sun for hours cutting back trees and debris; it is no easy task. Carlito completed these tasks along with positively interacting with the public. He loved taking photographs of reptiles, birds, bobcats, and the staff members daily! Carlito would love helping out with all of our animal ambassadors at Green Cay, but his favorite, of course, is Oliver the Eastern Screech-Owl.

He was high energy, hard working, dependable, and honest. Carlito has all the qualities ideal in a volunteer and will be truly missed!

What is the biggest personal benefit he received as a volunteer with our department? “Working with great people everyday, especially the other volunteers, has built friendships and experiences that will be remembered always. All the experiences I have had with the animal ambassadors and wildlife has built my appreciation for them as well as the importance of sharing with others how we all benefit by protecting them.”

Interesting facts about Carlito: Carlito is unique in the fact that he is a Deaf individual, proud of his culture. Working as a volunteer at Green Cay, we see that this is no obstacle or something to overcome, but simply a part of his personality. He has never held back expressing himself and communicating with staff, volunteers, or visitors. Carlito loved to teach us Sign and we tried to learn a few things each day. He is high energy! And always smiling! And we see how much he absolutely enjoyed coming to Green Cay daily. He has moved to Puerto Rico with his dad, Carlos Padilla, who recently retired from Green Cay Nature Center. Carlito has set a high bar for our future maintenance volunteers! We wish him all the best in his new adventure and thank him ever so much for his dedication to Green Cay Nature Center.

testing site set-up:PBCPARKS STAFF MAKING A DIFFERENCE DURING COVID-19

Ralph Osgood and Dessilon Saint-Eloi unload a critical supply at the FitTeam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches drive-through testing center

Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department staff are constantly springing into action – on March 30, staff helped set up the COVID-19 testing site located at FitTeam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Staff helped with this tremendous effort by filling sandbags, positioning generators, making and delivering signage, among other tasks!

“We say it all year long – parks save lives – thank for stepping up again in our community’s time of need to make a difference.” -Jennifer Cirillo, pbcParks Assistant Director

Jackie Lambert and Rick Hedlund making sure they practice proper social distancing

PUBLIC SERVICE PROFESSIONALS: PBCPARKS STAFF MAKING A DIFFERENCE DURING COVID-19

Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation staff alongside the National Guard (one of our partners).

Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Public Service Professionals are helping to fill much-needed roles across the county during this challenging time of general park closures. Many staff members have ventured away from their typical park-related roles in order to assist where critically needed. Here are just some of the ways staff has been assisting through various emergency and community roles:

• Staff has been deployed through the EDRP to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), including Ocean Rescue EMTs who have been screening people entering the EOC per CDC guidelines

• Recreation Programs Supervisor Cliff Battles is also at the EOC and is adeptly handling many Logistics Section and municipal mission/resource requests

• Public Relations Specialist Bibi Baksh was activated to the EOC in the Public Information Unit and helped pull together the 4:00 P.M. press conference

• Several designated EOA members from throughout the Department have also been activated to help set-up the COVID-19 Drive-through Testing Site at Fit Team Ballpark of the Palm Beaches with the multiple partner agencies; the department’s sign shop is busy producing signs critical to this effort

• Several forklift drivers are assisting at the Countywide Staging Area (CSA) at the fairgrounds, where supplies from the State are coming in, being sorted and distributed to a prioritized list including hospitals, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, etc…

These roles are in addition to the thousands of less visible but critical ways staff makes a difference through answering questions, educating the public, securing parks, sharing social media experiences to provide for a moment of stress relief or to inform, maintaining natural habitats, and more.

mobile showers & animal care: pbcparks staff making a difference during covid-19

During these unprecedented times, Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department staff continue to work in various roles to serve the community. Here are just two visible examples of the amazing work that PBC Parks and Recreation professionals are up to during this challenging time of general park closure to public park use. 

A mobile shower unit in partnership with non-profit “Shower the People“ is visiting the John Prince Park homeless encampment twice a week starting Saturday, March 28 to help people in need with preventative hygiene needs. Additional hand washing stations were also installed. The Park Operations, Park Rangers, Trades, JPP Maintenance Team, Special Facilities Special Events Section, and Administration teams collaborated to make this happen in short order.

Our animal ambassadors continue to need care and Daggerwing Nature Center staff brought environmental education into homes of students and adults alike: great work, Sean, Lila, and Daggerwing staff! You can view daily feeding videos of the nature center’s animals on their Facebook page.

Parks to Work Success Story: Miguel Crespo

The Palm Beach County Parks to Work Program is an effort that combines the forces of the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, Community Services Department, Salvation Army, and other community partners to help homeless individuals who are living in John Prince Park in Lake Worth get resources to escape homelessness.

Miguel Crespo is the program’s first success story. Crespo started in the 6-month program in February 2018 and was able to obtain seasonal employment with the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department as a result of his experience as a Parks to Work participant. In March 2019, Crespo obtained a full-time position as a maintenance employee with the department, working primarily at Peanut Island in Riviera Beach. The program has allowed Crespo to successfully transition out of homelessness, obtain a job, buy a car, and secure permanent housing.

Watch this video to learn more about Miguel Crespo’s story and the Parks to Work Program.

Volunteer Spotlight: Kim Ryan

PBC Parks’ Volunteer Spotlight highlights our talented and dedicated volunteers! Meet DuBois Pioneer Home volunteer, Kim Ryan, one of the four “original” Dubois Pioneer Home historical docents. Watch the video to learn about Ryan – including why she volunteers and what reactions she gets from visitors! Docents provide guests with quality, educational, and enriching experiences by giving educational tours throughout the DuBois House exhibit. Consider becoming a docent at the DuBois House located at DuBois Park in Jupiter! Call PBC Parks Volunteer Services at 561-966-6609 for more information.