At one time, Joseph Scavo Park featured nothing more than a playground and a gathering place for the neighborhood.
That started to change in July, when crews broke ground on a big improvement project, part of Hallandale Beach's parks master plan, and on a recent Saturday morning, nearly 1,000 people came out to watch Mayor Joy Cooper and city commissioners cut the ribbon and officially reopen the park.
"It was simply amazing," Cooper said. "The buzz around town has also been great."
The revamped park, located in the Three Islands community, includes basketball courts, restrooms, an exercise and walking trail, two off-leash dog parks (one each for large and small dogs), and a larger playground.
"I am so proud to have cut the ribbon in honor of [Scavo's] legacy and to his family," said City Commissioner Bill Julian, who considers the late mayor to be a mentor. "[There's] a fitness trail, which I desperately need to participate in, more trees and a big playground for the little kids. [The park] just gives off an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity; I love it."
It's the first project in the master plan to be completed, and it cost about $1.6 million, $100,000 under the projected budget. Cooper said more than $700,000 stayed local, using city vendors, workers and contractors. Other parks currently undergoing renovations are B.F. James, South Beach City and North Beach City.
Phases two and three of the master plan, which include six additional parks, are being planned, but funding will rely on a bond referendum scheduled for the November elections.
"Parks create a place to exercise, a place of respite to connect to nature, socialize, play and simply enjoy life," Cooper said. "… They [also] add to our economic vitality by improving property values."
Joseph Scavo Park is at 900 Three Islands Blvd. For more information on the plan and other projects underway, visit Hallandalebeachfl.gov.
Sara Shell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.