Welcome to Power of Parks, a podcast produced by the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, where we share inspiring stories from people who have benefited from nature, parks and recreation.
Episode 13 features Colby Zebarth, a Palm Beach County resident and 14-year-old rider at Shark Wake Park inside Okeeheelee Park. Colby was recently crowned the 2020 Junior Pro World Champion at the World Wake Association Wake Park World Championships just 15 months after starting his wakeboard training at the park.
Also joining the conversation is Greg Norman, Jr. – the owner of Shark Wake Park inside Okeeheelee Park. They offer a variety of adventurous water activities, including cable wakeboarding and kneeboarding, a floating obstacle course, and more.
Dyer Park is a 560-acre regional park located in West Palm Beach. A former landfill, the park features “The Hill” allowing visitors to walk up and around it, and even bike along it! The park allows visitors to experience a unique green space that is not typically found in the flat South Florida landscape. Watch this video to learn more about opportunities for play at Dyer Park!
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.
Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park is a massive and popular park that’s full of opportunities for recreation and play. Boasting an amphitheater, nature center, water park, dog park, golf course, and more, the park has something for everyone!
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’.
25 years ago, Karen Gray and other Jupiter Beach residents started Friends of Jupiter Beach (FJB). The founder being Anita Lankler and the executive director, Karen Gray have always had a passion for keeping their home clean and educating others about conservation and stewardship for the environment.
One of the main incentives for creating FJB, other than environmental benefits, is the agreement to delegate a portion of Jupiter Beach as a dog friendly beach, where dogs can roam free off-leash. This group has continuously maintained the beach’s cleanliness as well as enforcing the rules of the dog-friendly beach with pet owners. FJB has provided each beach access with a dispenser of pet waste bags and signs clearly conveying to cleanup after your pet.
From the effects of the pandemic in 2020, FJB had to cancel a few cleanups this year, but continued to perform these monthly cleanups in a safe and socially-distanced manner after restrictions let up. Karen does an incredible job organizing volunteer meetings at separate locations with no more than 10 volunteers at each access. Even with the restrictions, FJB still manages to safely host up to 100 volunteers dispersed through each cleanup. In 2020, this group has managed to clean up and document approximately 1,287 pounds of garbage and 879 pounds of recyclables from Ocean Cay Park and Jupiter Beach.
A huge thanks goes out to Karen and all the volunteers that participate in the monthly Friends of Jupiter Beach Cleanups hosted every first Saturday of the month.
The DuBois Pioneer Home Virtual Tour – Fireside Chat series brings you short stories from relatives and friends of the DuBois family. In this episode, Skip and Geri Gladwin, siblings who lived in the home as kids, talk about some of their favorite memories from living in Jupiter area in the mid-1900’s.
Do you know how Kingsnakes find their food using their tongue? Daggerwing Nature Center Manager, Sean Mallee tells you how – as well as other interesting facts about the Kingsnake, an Animal Ambassador at Daggerwing Nature Center.
On October 25, a dedicated group known as ‘The Clean-Up Kids’ participated in a beach cleanup on Ocean Ridge Hammock Park, where they filled up six trash bags! The total weight of trash collected was 90 pounds, and the total weight of recyclables collected was five lbs.
The Clean-Up Kids is a volunteer group started by young parent Kailley Catalo and her husband. They’re dedicated to teaching children lifelong lessons to ensure a clean future, including our collective impact on the planet.
“We believe it is never too early to start teaching & participating in bettering ourselves, the planet & our community. We are developing more creative ideas to help them give back to our community such as organizing park cleanups, feeding the homeless, book exchanges/donations, mini-marathon to raise awareness to different issues, adopt sea turtles, clean local fire trucks and more. We believe in community and that ‘it’s takes a village to raise a child’ so as parents it’s super valuable for us to teach them the power and hard work of giving back to the community.”
The Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department is happy to announce a brand new park! Kids can swing, slide, spin, and more at Belvedere Heights Park, a neighborhood park located in West Palm Beach. Watch this video to learn about the park and its amenities!