pembroke pines i remember when: the early years
Post on 01-Jan-2017
Embed Size (px)
volume 30 number 1 2010
A p u b l i c A t i o n o f t h e b r o w A r d c o u n t y h i s t o r i c A l c o m m i s s i o n
i remember When: The early Years
The City That Almost Wasnt
Past and Present
The Pembroke Pines Historical museum
book reviewPinus Elliotti, var. densa, c. 1980. (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
A service of the BrowArd county BoArd of county commissionersBertha Henry County Administrator
Broward county Board of county commissionersSue GunzburgerDale V.C. Holness Kristin JacobsChip LaMarcaIlene LiebermanStacy RitterJohn E. Rodstrom, Jr.Barbara Sharief Lois Wexler
BrowArd county historicAl commissionersHazel K. Armbrister, ChairThomas A. Hasis, Vice Chai Wendy Wangberg, SecretaryPhyllis LocontoJames BradleyJohn P. BarrancoPaul Callsen Betty Whatley CobbWilliam G. Crawford, Jr.Maureen DinnenWally ElfersSteve GlassmanElsie JohnsBill JulianCarl LankeDawn LaVoirChristopher RyanMarla Sherman DumasRichard Singer
BrowArd historicAl commission stAffDave Baber, AdministratorDenyse Cunningham, Editor, CuratorHelen Landers, Broward County HistorianMatthew DeFelice, County ArcheologistMarcia Seldine, Administrative Coordinator
Copyright 2010, by the Broward County Historical Commission. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means, whether graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or information and retrieval systems, without permission of the publisher.Broward Legacy is published annually by the Broward County Historical Commission. Location and mailing address: Broward County Historical Museum 301 S.W. 13th Avenue Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312 Phone: 954-357-5553 FAX: 954-357-5522Annual subscriptions and back issues are available.Unless otherwise noted, photographs are from the archives of the Historical Commission.Neither the Board of County Commissioners of Broward County, Florida, nor the Broward County Historical Commission is responsible for the statements, conclusions or observations herein contained, such matters being the sole responsibility of the authors.This public document was promulgated at a cost of $804.00, or $2.01 per copy, to provide historical information to the public about Broward County.
volume 30 number 1 2010
f e a t u r e s
a p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h e b r o w a r d c o u n t y h i s t o r i c a l c o m m i s s i o n
Pembroke Pines: I Remember When: The Early Years
By Gerry Witoshynsky Page 2
Pembroke Pines Past and Present
By Gerry WitoshynskyPage 10
Pembroke Pines The City That Almost Wasnt
By Joe KnetschPage 8
The Pembroke Pines Historical Museum
By Gerry WitoshynskyPage 23
Old Walls By John Fritchey
Book ReviewBy William G. Crawford, Jr.
on the cover:
Pembroke Pines city hall, south view, 2001 (Photo by Gerry witoshynsky)
2 broward Legacy
Pembroke PinesI Remember When: The Early YearsBy Gerry Witoshynsky
Dr. and Mrs. Walter Seth Kipnis had relatives in Hollywood that they wanted to live nearby. They found their perfect spot in the Pembroke Pines #1 subdivision, about 10 blocks west of State Road 441. The streets were crushed limestone laid out in a former cow pasture. The area was pancake-flat and described as high dry pineland, 10 feet above sea level. The Kipnises tell the story that they bought their lot in 1954, went north for a time and when they returned, the Turnpike had been built on the eastern border of the new community!
Two of the Kipnis neighbors were Albertus Bert Vogt and his wife Helene. Bert was an engineer who worked at the water pumping station at Holiday Park on the western end of Griffin Road. Berts dad, Albertus Vogt, Sr., was a flamboyant Florida character involved in the early phosphate deposits industry in Polk County, Florida, in the 1800s.
My husband Alex and I bought a residential lot in Pembroke Pines in 1956, and moved into our completed house in March 1957. There was no city. It was just a group of homes built in plats of Pembroke Pines #1, Pembroke Pines #2 and Pembroke Ranches, started by the Flamingo Development Company in 1954.
Home of Dr. and Mrs. Walter Seth Kipnis, Southwest 13th Street in Pembroke Pines, c. 1950s. (Image courtesy of Pembroke Pines Historical Museum)
Estelle Kipnis (l), Bert and Helen Vogt, c. 1980. (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
A Pembroke Pines pioneer resident, Gerry Witoshynsky has been Pembroke Pines City Historian since 1995 and Historical Society/Museum Director since 1980.
She was a Broward County Historical Commissioner from 1984 to 1988.
Volume 30 number 1 broward Legacy 3
When we moved into our Southwest 10th Street house, we had one neighbor: Ruth Pearce and her mother Daisy Von Schleider. There were people to the south, at the rear of Southwest 10th Court and a few dozen homes farther south, surrounded by magnificent live oak trees and mature pine trees. These are the now rare Pinus elliottii, var densa, commonly
known as Dade County Pine or Caribbean Pine. We learned this valuable tree was prized for its lumber that was impervious to the voracious local termites. The lot we chose had two fine specimens. We had one removed from our front yard, something I regret to this day.
Many of the first homes were built on 90 or 125 foot lots, but ours was 60
feet wide by 105 feet deep. The house was 1,000 square feet with two bedrooms and one and a half baths, and as first time homebuyers, to us it was wonderful! It was many years before we filled it with furniture and four children.
My daughter, Mary, was born at Mercy Hospital in Miami in November 1957. I remember that 1957-58 winter for another reasonit was cold! We had to run the gas wall heater most of the winter. A 2010 Miami Herald article confirms 1957-58 as a record cold winter.
Two-year-old Mary in her red wagon and I would tour the new homes in the area. We watched the road building equipment as it scraped the new streets for the Pasadena Homes section from Southwest 9th Street to Hollywood Boulevard. This was the first major planned development of multiple acres that would become common as the city moved westward.
Other new neighbors eventually joined us the Nortons; Bob and Ginny Neff across the street; and the Bells next door. I was disappointed when their house was built as it blocked my view of the beautiful sunsets.
Planes and BlimpsNorth Perry Airport, a World War II
facility created as an auxiliary of Miami Naval Air Station in 1942, was a square mile property west of Southwest 72nd Avenue. The Broward County Aviation Department received the property from the U.S. Navy in 1957. One- and two-engine private planes used the field. The planes flew eastward over our Southwest 10th Street home. I got to know which planes where which by the sound of the motors. When I heard something unusual, I ran outside to see what new aircraft was going over. Once it was a twin engine DC-3.
One winter a fabulously preserved Ford Tri-Motor plane stayed at the airport. My sons, John and Mike, and I went for a ride in it, putt-putting along at a speed that seemed barely able to keep us airborne! John and Mike loved what they named the orange-green dive bomber, a post World War II training plane; it made such a glorious roar as it departed the runway! \
Each winter a parade of blimps would dock at North Perry Airport to advertise for national corporations and to provide TV coverage of golf tournaments and
Pinus Elliottii, var densa, c. 1980. (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
4 broward Legacy
Super Bowls. I think I have photos of all 17 of them, plus some aerial shots from two of them when Alex and I were invited by the airport manager to take rides.
Animals, Birds, Snakes and AlligatorsA not uncommon sight was a parade
of dairy cows walking down the street. They would escape from McArthurs dairy farm north of Southwest 9th Street to Hollywood Boulevard. The farm workers would have to come and retrieve them. A resident on Southwest 12th Street once found a cow in his swimming pool! Jack rabbits and burrowing owls lived at North Perry Airport. The jack rabbits were thought to have escaped from the many brought here to act as lures for racing greyhounds at Miami tracks. A prairie dog (or woodchuck) lived behind the baseball fields at Kennedy Park.
Several residents had horses that they stabled west of University Drive. They would ride them around the neighborhood. I never saw or heard of any panthers or bobcats in the Village, but they must have roamed the open areas west of the airport. Raccoons, possums and eventually grey squirrels were commonly seen, and the birds were great friends! We put out food for them until the local cats became a danger. Cardinals, sparrows, blue jays and mourning doves were numerous. Nighthawks, also called mosquito hawks, flew at dusk. Brilliantly colored and handsome new residents, spotted-breasted orioles were seen in the neighborhood in the morning and late afternoon, indicating their presence by a distinctive, melodious song.
In the winter, we often saw birds such as painted buntings, and I remember a
flock of cedar waxwings most unusual visitors. Some winters when the weather was especially bad in the north, flocks of robins would come to South Florida. They would eat the overripe red berries of the non-native Florida holly and become intoxicated.
For years, we had black snakes that occasionally showed themselves. Tiny bright green snakes also lived in the yard, as well as foot-long dark grey snakes with bright orange rings around their necks. Not so welcome non-native Bufo marinus toads would appear; they were poisonous and could sicken dogs that bit them.
In the 1990s, bright green Knights anoles lizards began appearing. In the 2000s, iguanas became common. During the cold spells of 2009-2010, many were found comatose or dead.
Pembroke Pines from University Drive westward was part of the Everglades.
Everglades plus water equals alligators! Not as numerous now as they once were, they still show themselves. A special incident was caught by a newspapermans camera when a large specimen crawled halfway up a Pembroke Lakes residents door and noisily scratched at it. The invader eventually left to return to a nearby lake.
One day while I was in our City Hall on the sixth floor, I looked down at the waterway in the front of the building. In a rough spot on the east bank lay an alligator, sunning itself.
The Beginnings of City FacilitiesPembroke Pines was progressive
in its development of planned unit developments (PUDs), such as Pembroke Lakes and Grand Palms. Condominiums were popular with retirees from northern cities. The community was innovative in the creation of its charter school system, to provide educational facilities when our growth outdistanced the ability of Broward County to fund and build schools.
We were fortunate to have Pines Elementary School built a few blocks east at Southwest 9th Street and Southwest 66th Avenue. Mary, John, Mike and our fourth son, Tom could walk the few blocks to the school. The Pines Village area eventually expanded with the building of the Pasadena Homes from Southwest 9th Street to Hollywood Boulevard. Southwest 72nd Avenue was extended from Southwest 9th Street to Hollywood Boulevard, whereas before we had to drive to Pembroke Road, east to State Road 441 and then north to the small shops just west
Pines Village Residence in Original Pembroke Pines Plat #2, 1957. (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
Pembroke Pines Public Library, Originally a Developers Showroom, 1983. (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
Volume 30 number 1 broward Legacy 5
of the Florida Turnpike on Hollywood Boulevard. Usually we would drive to Publix grocery stores several miles away. The closest pharmacy was on State Road 441.
As a fledgling community in the early 1960s, we did not have any facilities. The county allowed us to create ball fields on the east side of the airport and the West Hollywood Community Center was built on Hollywood Boulevard west of Southwest 72nd Avenue. For a short time, the youngsters had pickup games on Southwest 13th Street across from what was started as a youth center in 1959. With incorporation, it became the Village Hall.
My sons John and Mike learned to swim at a neighbors pool, donated as part of the slowly organizing Recreation Department activities. Estelle Kipnis, Carol Ludington, Helene Vogt and Theresa Winter were the leaders of a group that created a tiny library in the town hall; they asked residents to donate money and books to get it started. Eventually, a developers sales office was donated to the city, under the condition it be moved from Hollywood Boulevard to a spot next to the city hall. This served as city offices before being used as the Pembroke Pines Public Library, until the Broward County South Regional Library was built in 1983 on the Broward Community College campus at Pines Boulevard and Southwest 74th Avenue.
Some years were especially dry
with lawns suffering from lack of water. Our water came from the Welwyn plant, located in what became a part of the City of Miramar, and operated by Broward County. Barely a trickle could be coaxed from the garden hoses to water the lawns and many people invested in pumps for lawn care. The local ladies started a garden club to encourage home landscaping. Resident Ashley Hale, who served on the City Council, drove a city owned tractor around the area to cut vacant lots and mow the ball fields at Kennedy Park on the east side of North Perry Airport.
Government and PoliticsThe Kipnises were world travelers
before settling in Pines Village in their custom-built ranch style home at the corner of Southwest 13th Street and Southwest 69th Avenue. They inspired the first residents organization, the Pembroke Pines Civic Association, formed in 1957. The group was responsible for the incorporation attempt of 1959, which failed, and the successful January 1960 election. After 25 years of leading the formation of the city, the association took the balance of the treasury and had a farewell dinner, complimenting itself for its service to the community and a job well done.
The 1959 election was declared invalid, so the first seven city officials designated as alderman lost their positions. The January 1960 election satisfied all legal requirements; so the city was officially born. Six new aldermen and one alderwoman were seated and Mayor Walter Seth Kipnis was reinstalled.
Most of the small towns population joined in the elections for city council and mayoral seats. Because of the two-year terms, elections were needed every year. I remember so many hot August days when we would deliver campaign literature door-to-door to approximately 1,900 single-family homes. Pembroke Pines residents were truly active citizens and demonstrated their devotion by working for the candidates of their choice.
Ford Tri-Motor plane, c. early 1990s (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
Pembroke Pines Civic Association Farewell Dinner, 1982. (Image courtesy of Pembroke Pines Historical Museum)
6 broward Legacy
It seemed like we had elections far too often. In 1961, an appointed charter review board wrote our citys operating legal document. But some residents insisted that the board should have been elected, not appointed. So an election was held to elect a Charter Review Board to write our charter, which in turn had to be approved with very few changes at an election.
I always followed local, state and national politics the Graham for Governor campaign, Jimmy Carters presidential campaign (I met several of Carters Peanut Brigade at Pines Recreation Center) and attended City Commissioner Harold Askews campaign appearances with him and his wife Vicki when he ran for Broward County Tax Assessor.
The Bob Graham for Governor campaign in 1978 was enthusiastically endorsed by many Pines residents: Mayor Ron Villella and wife Lynn, City Clerk Margaret Bosarge and her husband Buddy, and Democratic Club members Joe Knetsch and his wife Linda were major supporters. As these people were busy during the day, I had the job of being at the Graham campaign office in a shopping center just east of Southwest 72nd Avenue on Pines Boulevard.
One of the most startling incidents occurred when a man came in and wanted to speak to me alone. We went to the back room. He told me he could get a lot of votes for Graham. One of
Grahams opponents was Bob Shevin, State Attorney General. This man was an ex-convict and he could get many people to support Graham over Shevin! I do not recall what I told him; the other volunteers in the office were hovering nearby worried about my safety as the man revealed his message.
The Graham campaign ran smoothly, but the trip by the Pembroke Pines contingent to Tallahassee for the inauguration did not. Ron and Lynn Villella and I, plus another campaign worker, were stranded at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. We finally boarded, but the flight
was headed to Jacksonville! Ron rented a car there and the four of us, plus a Florida State University student headed west late in the afternoon to Tallahassee via Route 10. It was pitch black driving the two-lane road through the Osceola Forest. Ron was starving; the only edibles we had were a pack of gum and a half roll of Lifesavers! By the time we reached the Capitol, all the parties and receptions were over. Ron could finally get something to eat and Lynn could confess that she was numb from sitting on the seat belt mechanism in the center front seat!
On inauguration day, we sat on folding chairs on the west side of the new skyscraper capitol building. It was nearly freezing and then the snow started! Only a few flakes fell, but it was another occurrence that made for a memorable journey and inauguration of January 2, 1979! Ron decided to resign as mayor of Pembroke Pines and stayed in Tallahassee, working for the Graham administration. Vice Mayor Paul Maxwell became mayor.
I was appointed to the Board of Adjustment at a City Council meeting in the 1970s by Mayor Chuck Flanagan. He had first selected Dave Hlay, but then changed his mind, saying he did not like Daves jacket (a very loud plaid).
One issue I was pleased to be involved in was the long campaign to establish the South Campus of Broward Community College (now Broward College) at the northeast corner of North Perry Airport at
Halleys Comet, April 1986 (Rendering by Gerry Witoshynsky, May 1986)
Winter Frost on Tom Witoshynskys Car, Pembroke Pines, 12-25-1989. (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
Volume 30 number 1 broward Legacy 7
Pines Boulevard and Southwest 72nd Ave. This struggle started in 1969 and went on for nearly 10 years, with done deals suddenly falling apart, then new avenues opening up. I was a citizen supporter attending meetings and writing to Letters to the Editors of local newspapers. Mayor Chuck Flanagan and State Representative Dr. Walter C. Youngs help was vitally important in finally getting the project approved.
Rare OccurrencesThe Florida Everglades is one of
the perfect places on Earth to observe the night sky. One evening in 1986, my son John and I drove 30 miles west on Alligator Alley and parked the car. The stars were brilliant and in their midst was a fuzzy white object Halleys Comet! It had returned on its 76-year orbit and we were fortunate to be able to see it. No long tail, but nevertheless a thrilling, once in a lifetime event.
Hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, untimely deaths and plane crashes were memorable occurrences in our post World War II city. One Christmas, our daughter Mary gave us an orange tree seedling. We planted it in the front yard where it grew to maturity and produced beautiful honeybelle fruit. But it was condemned to death and cut down in 1999 during the 1995-2006 citrus canker epidemic.
There was a brief flurry of snowflakes around eight oclock on the morning of January 19, 1977, probably the most southern incidence of snow recorded in the Sunshine State! On Christmas Day in 1989, we wrote the date in frost on my son Toms Volkswagen!
Archaeological DigsBuzzards Roost
Our house and the rest of the Pines Village neighborhood were built on undisturbed ground, used only as dairy farm pastures starting in the early 1930s. But I found out eventually as I became more interested in our town and county history that there was an Indian encampment site within the Chapel Trail development at our far western border, just east of U.S. 27. It was called Buzzards Roost, and was identified by giant old ficus trees growing on a slight rise out of the surrounding Everglades.
I was thrilled when, as city historian, I was invited to go with members of the Broward County Archaeological Society
on a dig at the site! This was in April 1987, when the land would be dry before the summer rains. We trudged laboriously through the growth of entangled Brazilian pepper trees (Schinus terebinthifolius), a non-native import covering the many acres of the designated Chapel Trail development site. I fell out of one of the trees about three feet above the ground.
We easily located the ficus trees and each member of the party scraped away low growing plants to dig in the soft black muck. I found snake and fish vertebrae, bird bones, turtle shells and what I believed was part of an alligator jawbone. Others found pottery remnants and seashell tools, indicative of occupation by ancient Indians, probably Tequesta, between 500 B.C. and 1500 A.D.
This site had been surveyed previously, but only casually, so important relics may someday be dug up. The developers were very responsible in setting aside a two-to-three-acre site for preservation and further exploration. My precious collection resides at the Pembroke Pines Historical Museum. I hope that someone with knowledge of the bones can someday positively identify them for me. The day we explored this site we saw feline animal tracks perhaps those of a rare Florida panther in the soft sandy ruts left by a truck.
Looking back how could 50 years go by so fast!
These are only some of the things I remember, living the history of Pembroke Pines, watching and participating in the founding and growth of our city. In 1980, Mrs. Estelle Kipnis and I, along with a group of other pioneers, incorporated the
Pembroke Pines Historical Society. When the group disbanded and Estelle was no longer physically able to participate, I carried on the volunteer work of collecting and preserving Pines history in facilities provided by the city. Every minute has been more than worthwhile and I anticipate working on many more projects before I retire.
______________________1 Morgan, C. (2010, March 2). Strong storms to
usher in another frigid week. The Miami Herald, pp. A1, A2.
2 Morgan, C. (2010, February 7). Big chill kills crocs, pythons, sea cows. The Miami Herald, pp. A1, A25.
4 Halsey, W. D. (Ed. et al.). (1967). Colliers Encyclopedia (Vol. 7, p. 51). USA: Crowell Collier and MacMillan, Inc.
5 Brecher, E. J., Tasker, F. (2010, May 13). Canker windfall is sweet, and sour. The Miami Herald, p. A1.
6 Susskind, J. (1987, January 19). The day it snowed. The Sun-Sentinel, pp. A1, A8. (article published on the tenth anniversary of the 1977 event)
7 Nelson, T. (1987, April 22). Archaeologists identifying area of historic Indian site in Pines. Fort Lauderdale News/Sun-Sentinel, p. 10.
The Family Channel blimp at North Perry Airport with Alex Witoshynsky in foreground, c. 1990s. (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
8 broward Legacy
On May 11, 1957, voters in West Hollywood and what is now Pembroke Pines went to the polls to try to create a new, viable city that would block attempts by the City of Hollywood to annex the area. Among those standing for office in the Hollywood Heights election were J.J. Shear, John (Jack) Dockery and Walter S. Kipnis. They never got the chance to serve. The election, featuring a dont go to the polls campaign by those opposed to a new municipality, failed to give birth to a city.
In southwest Broward County, the late 1950s were a time of rapid growth, festering dislike of county government and taxes, and a desire to avoid being swallowed up by a neighboring city. The citizens of the then tiny development of Pembroke Pines felt that they had four choices as to how to face the future. First, they could join neighboring Miramar, a choice favored
Pembroke PinesThe City That Almost WasntBy Joe Knetsch
Historian and author Dr. Joe Knetsch and his wife, Linda, currently live in Tallahassee. Knetsch has published more than 200 articles and given more than 150 papers on the history of Florida. He has written several books: Floridas Seminole Wars: 1817- 1858 and Faces of the Frontier: Florida Surveyors and Developers in 19th Century Florida. His most recently published book is Fear and Anxiety on the Florida Frontier: Articles on the Second Seminole War 1835 1842, published by the Seminole Wars Foundation.
Knetsch taught history at Ramblewood Middle School in Coral Springs, and served on the Broward County Historical Commission in the early 1980s. He was once a resident of the greater Pembroke Pines area, and was active in that citys Historical Society. This article first appeared in the 1983 spring issue of the New River News, volume 21, number 4, a publication of the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society, and is reproduced here with the permission of the author.
Dr. Joe Knetsch, 1994 (photo by the Broward County Historical Commission)
Volume 30 number 1 broward Legacy 9
by some Miramar officials. Another choice, championed by J.J. Shear, but not many others, was to be annexed into the City of Hollywood. A third option was to incorporate all of West Hollywood, but Dr. Kipnis, David Hlay and other leaders feared the Pines would become just a small fish in a big pond, paying most of the taxes and having the least to say about things.
That left only self-incorporation. Kipnis, Dockery and others were familiar with this from the 1957 Hollywood Heights election, but State Law 165 allowed a community to incorporate only if two-thirds of the eligible registered voters approved. With this requirement in mind, the attempt to incorporate the Village of Pembroke Pines began.
The task of incorporation was not to be easy, although the arguments for the move were fairly clear. According to a flyer handed out by the Committee for Incorporation of Pembroke Pines, the reasons were: 1) the desire to protect property values through retaining the present zoningand insure a continued high future zoning 2) our problems and interests are not identical with those of West Hollywood 3) we would be a very small frog in a very big puddle through joining West Hollywood and 4) we can be annexed to West Hollywood without any choice if we dont form our own government.
To reinforce their stand favoring incorporation, the committee, headed by Kipnis, Hlay, James Bardsley, Ted Thompson and Anthony DiPietro, with help from the Pembroke Pines Civic Association, held a straw ballot which favored incorporation by a vote of 103 to three. Still, this was only one faction.
The opposition was larger than the three dissenters noted above. In a May 4, 1958, editorial, the Hollywood Sun-Tattler came out against incorporation. The paper feared that a number of small municipalities may continue to grow in the sprawling west Hollywood area until Broward County is saddled with the same confusion that runs rife among the nearly
30 Dade County municipalities. The editor favored one city for all of south Broward. Additionally, an opposition group sprang up, headed by Robert Fegers, president of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, and Charles Ziemba, a building contractor and leading proponent of a single West Hollywood city. They, too, voiced strong arguments against incorporation.
Fegers felt that the area is too small. There is no money to provide public servicesThey have suggested using a fire truck from North Perry Airport. That truck throws foam and cannot be used for homes. Even Shear, who would work eventually for incorporation, initially sounded a shrill note of caution when he asked Pines residents to weigh the costs of incorporationPembroke Pines has no business. The lines for battle were thus clearly drawn.
The incorporation campaign was marked by a high degree of personal invective and mudslinging, as might be expected in small-town politics. More critically, neither faction was able to ascertain the exact number of freeholders. The newspapers of the day offered no reliable numbers, and although the court would ultimately rule on this matter, the issue was never completely resolved.
The election itself, requiring two-thirds of the registered freeholders to approve incorporation, was close and hotly disputed. Although incorporation won out, and the Village of Pembroke Pines was created, there were charges that it was not approved according to statute law. The result was a three-part suit filed by Ziemba, Alex Millstone and Ralph Bibbo. The suit charged that: 1) The incorporation did not receive the necessary 2/3 majority vote of the freeholders, 2) The legal description of the town boundary as it appeared on the ballot sheets was incorrect, 3) Dr. Kipnis was the self-appointed chairman of the committee to open and close balloting, and clerks named to tabulate results were not appointed by the persons assembled, both violations of Florida statutes.
Af ter ten months of v i l lage government, lawsuits and a treasury with less than $100 in it, Judge Richard Sauls de-incorporated the village on December 14, 1959. Judge Sauls decision was based on the issue of advertised boundaries only.
This set-back did not keep the redoubtable mayor Dr. Kipnis down. He, along with many others, spearheaded a drive to re-incorporate. Bob Miller best summed up the spirit in a Fort Lauderdale News interview on October 29, 1959: We have a little village. Lets tear it down and build a bigger and better one!
Having learned by their mistakes, the re-incorporators made sure their new advertisements were as correct as could be. From the very start of the second incorporation campaign, the issue was not in doubt. When the votes were counted on January 16, 1960, Pembroke Pines was the winner. Dr. Kipnis was elected as the first mayor, and the council consisted of Frank Quinn, Robert Miller, Ruth Pearce, Anthony DiPietro, James Kier, Eugene Moran and John OBrien. Oliver Shaw was elected as marshall, and Bill Murphy was elected city clerk.
Born out of a fear of lost value, unfriendly surrounding governments and a sense of communal uniqueness, Pembroke Pines has grown from a little over 200 freeholders to a city of more than 150,000 residents. This growth has taken place in less than 25 years. The city still faces an uncertain future, but it can forge its own path now, something that could not be said with certainty prior to 1960. Given its hesitant beginning, Pembroke Pines could well be called the city that almost wasnt.
10 broward Legacy
In February, 1943, F. H. Peterson, a dairy farmer once employed by Henry D. Perry, bought 280 acres of land for $3,600. In 1954, Mr. Peterson sold 55 acres to Flamingo Development Corporation for $63,000. The 55 acres were between Pembroke Road and Hollywood Boulevard north and south; Southwest 72 Avenue, the eastern border of North Perry Airport, on the west; and the newly built Sunshine Parkway, or Florida Turnpike, on the east (circa 1957). That was prorated to $1,500 per interior acre and $2,000 per acre along Pembroke Road.
Most of the property in western Broward County west of U.S. 441 was used for dairy farms, starting in the late 1920s. Two of the best known were the McArthur Dairy and the Perry Dairy, now remembered by McArthur High School and North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines, and Perry schools in Miramar. In early 2005, the very last of Wiley Waldreps dairy cows on the one remaining dairy farm in Broward County were transported from Waldreps property north of Taft Street and east of University Drive to the Lake Okeechobee area. The dairy was annexed by Pembroke Pines and became the Walnut Creek subdivision.
The first homes in what was to become the city of Pembroke Pines were built in 1956, on F. H. Petersons former dairy property just north of Pembroke Road. Many were expansive three-bedroom homes with swimming pools built on 90 to 125 foot lots. People liked them, so the little neighborhood quickly grew. Some builders added two bedroom homes on 60 foot lots to attract young families who could afford the $10,000 prices.
In 1952, Louis Sambataro had built homes in the South Broward Ranches sub-division just south of Hollywood Boulevard at Southwest 67th Avenue. The first house sold for $4,000. In 1954, just north of Pembroke Road, west of the Turnpike, the Pembroke Pines #1 and #2 sub-divisions were started. The average price for a small home was $9,600 and the three-bedroom, two-bath homes with a pool were priced at $25,000.
The City of Pembroke Pines is located in Broward County, Florida. It was incorporated in January 1960, after a group of residents which included the Pembroke Pines Civic Association, asked for an election. In 1960, population was 1,429 and the city was one square mile, located between Pembroke Road on the south, Hollywood Boulevard on the north, North Perry Airport (Southwest 72nd Avenue) on the west, and the Florida Turnpike on the east.
Past and PresentBy Gerry Witoshynsky
Pembroke Pines City Hall, south view 2001 (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
Volume 30 number 1 broward Legacy 11
Before the city was incorporated, the State of Florida had acquired a very large piece of property just west of North Perry Airport. This was developed as South Florida State Hospital, for the care of persons with mental disabilities, the first such facility in South Florida. Over the years, the institutions uses have changed. Currently it is the Senator Howard C. Forman Human Services Campus. It has also been the home of the Alexander Sandy Nininger, Jr. Veterans Nursing Home; Pines Place, a three-building senior apartment housing complex; Atlantic Shores Hospital; Jose Maria Vargas University; and Susan B. Anthony House. Other city and county facilities on the property are managed by the city, including the new Studio 18 that provides working spaces for artists.
The Early Evolution of Pembroke Pines Government since 1960
Over the past 33 years, Pembroke Pines has undergone a progressive evolution of its city government. From its incorporation, the government has adapted to accommodate the increase in population, geographic size and the demands of a more regulated urban society. In their new community, the residents and elected officials had to learn by doing, as a brief review of events will show.
On January 16, 1960, an election to incorporate was held and easily passed. A city charter was approved by the voters on May 7, 1960. Almost immediately a lawsuit was filed by resident J. J. Shear, who claimed that the election was illegal. He said the Charter Board had been appointed by the council, rather than elected, making the charter invalid. The city finally admitted it had violated state statutes; it had wanted to establish the charter so that franchises could be issued, allowing construction projects to move ahead. Another wrinkle appeared it was determined that the appointed election board would have to be elected by the voters. The election board would oversee election of the Charter Board; an election was set for September 10, 1960. On that date, however, Hurricane Donna roared into the area and postponed the election to December 10. Due partly to City Attorney John Steeles resignation, the required four weeks of notice in
the newspapers were not published, effectively canceling the election. A third election date was set for January 14, 1961, with regular municipal elections to be held January 28, 1961.
Now that the election board and the new council were in place, the charter could be addressed for a third time. Evidently the-oft delayed election ballot of January 28, 1961 did not present charter board candidates. Newspaper articles of March 1961, reported an appointed charter committee had commenced deliberation of another version of the charter. The city council decided that it would be faster to get the charter by submitting it to the legislature, rather than at a referendum. The charter was written and approved by the legislature as House Bill #1413. It was also voted on by Pines residents on July 29, 1961, and approved by a 263-102 vote. Three charter changes proposed in the spring of 1963 were voted on August 24. They would have eliminated the non-voting mayoral position and instead have the mayor selected from the seven council members. The city manager form of government was also included, along with a measure to prevent recall of a council member during the first year of a two-year term. Although approved by the legislature, the amendments were defeated by the voters in a surprisingly low turnout for a community proud of its excellent voting record.
Resolution #180 on the 1965 ballot asked if the residents wanted a city hall and utilities building on city-owned property on Hollywood Boulevard at Northwest 74th Avenue; 814 voted against the plan and 345 voted for the plan. A follow-up question on a later ballot asked if the site should be sold, if a profit could be realized. This was approved. Looking back, the approximately one-acre site would have soon become inadequate for the rapidly expanding city.
The early Pines Charter Board and committees were appointed by the city council. On August 6, 1966, the citizens voted 1,093 to 184 for an elected charter board that would study the charter and propose amendments to keep the document current and tailored to the needs of the community. Five residents were selected to serve on the board.
Another board was now under attack. In December 1966, the Board of Adjustment, whose function was to hear and rule on zoning variances, was criticized for too much independent activity. The city council felt it had no control over the board and could not overturn board decisions. The desire to abolish the board came after Boyds Funeral Home was given a variance to build a memorial chapel on University Drive. Supporters said the Board of Adjustment was set up to keep politics out of zoning decisions. Resident and attorney Robert Fegers told the council it would violate State Statute #176.03 if it dissolved the board. The State Attorney advised the council it could banish the board, since it had created it in the first place, so they did just that. A resident filed suit on January 20, 1967, to nullify the 24 charter amendments passed on the December 3 referendum, claiming numerous irregularities. There had been a low turnout of 493 voters out of 3,700 registered. In February, a temporary injunction was issued blocking the city from operating under the newly approved charter regulations. Mayor Widlak said it would not interfere with the operation of the city. The suit was eventually dismissed by Circuit Judge O. Edgar Williams. The 1967 municipal election had created a new majority group on the council. Councilman Robert Helm asked the council to re-establish the Board of Adjustment. Mayor Widlak objected.
The council meetings kept the public interest because of frequent controversy. Newspaper reporters were having a great time on their Pembroke Pines beat never lacking for a story or a theme for editorial comment. Columnist Ed Seney wrote in the October 1967 Hollywood Sun-Tattler:
Pembroke Pines is a fun place. This city of nice homes and beautiful living has a recreation program second to none. Of course this recreation program is not a product of any recreation department or any such thing as that. The Pembroke Pines citizens get their fun by attending city council meetings. Im sure the members of the council dont mean for their meetings to be so much fun, but heck, a guys gotta get things off his chest. And getting things off his chest means that someone else isnt going to like those things, so they also have to get
12 broward Legacy
some things off their chests. And on and on Pembroke Pines citizens should be proud of the fact they have such a fun place to go in the evenings.
It was once said, With Pembroke Pines, who needs Jackie Gleason? Another reporter said, The Pines has had a fairly smooth-running city despite these evenings of oratorical splendor.
In December 1967, Mayor Widlak suggested splitting the city into wards, because he said some areas had two representatives, while others had none. Later in March 1968, Mayor Widlak proposed setting up a committee that would study ways to protect the citys interest if they consolidated into one large city. Hollywood City Commissioner Al Montella believed that within ten years only three large cities would exist Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Pompano Beach.
Councilman Ashley Hale said, I dont blame Montella for trying to annex us. Were a pretty darn nice little city. But were not going to let anyone take us over. Councilman Joe Ferraro commented, I think the motion should read that Pembroke Pines should immediately start
to annex Hollywood. Montellas interest in annexation of Pembroke Pines territory was to give Hollywood a corridor for westward expansion from its hemmed-in borders.
A charter amendment on the April 21, 1973 ballot that proposed a four-member council plus the mayor was defeated. What would have been a major change in city government was proposed in 1975. It would have shifted the administration of the city to a strong mayor, who would have the responsibilities currently handled by the city manager, under the council/city manager form of government. The measure was defeated by a vote of 1,853 to 1,400. After a long study by the charter board and numerous public hearings, a streamlined and updated charter was approved by the voters on March 14, 1978.
The city had been annexing various parcels of property in its westward expansion, almost since its incorporation in 1960. On the September presidential primary ballot of 1980, the residents were asked to vote for the third time on annexation of 10,080 acres or 15.75 square miles that would bring the city border to U.S. 27. The vote was 2,381 in favor and 1,507 opposed. Charter Amendment #3
on the March 10, 1981 ballot was approved to provide that council seats should be designated by numbers.
After many unsuccessful attempts to reduce the number of commissioners, as they are now called, a well thought-out plan with a complete blueprint for implementation was presented to the electorate on March 13, 1984, with the strong support of Mayor Chuck Flanagan. This action was an important move forward in the government of the city. It was inspired by the pending development of a huge new condominium complex, Century Village, with an eventual population of 15,000 residents, which would have the potential to dominate city government. A new structure was called for in order to guarantee a balanced representation from all areas of the community.
Four commissioners would be elected from four districts of equal population, and the mayor would be elected at large. As the population center moved, districts would be withdrawn. Seventy-seven percent of the voters agreed with the plan, which would take effect with the March 1985 election. In further refinement of the landmark 1984 change in government, the
Left to right - Lou Marsh, Jackie Gleason, and Tony Adams working on a movie in Dania (Courtesy of Pembroke Pines Historical Museum, Lee Adams Collection)
Volume 30 number 1 broward Legacy 13
1986 election approved four-year terms for the commissioners. An amendment was passed that set forth the procedure for removal of a commissioner who was incapacitated and unable to serve, but refused to resign.
One prickly issue that surfaced a couple of times was water fluoridation. Avid supporters and detractors argued for weeks on the subject. A non-binding straw ballot on the October 1966 ballot approved fluoridation of city water by a 760 to 494 vote. No action was taken to implement the plan; however, the city included money in the budget to buy fluoride tablets for free distribution. By July 1967, only five families had asked for them. The issue was revisited on June 16, 1987, when again voters were asked to decide on water treatment or free distribution of fluoride. The outcome was the same. The March 10, 1992 election ballot included an amendment to abolish the charter board and establish a commission-appointed body. This was approved.
With all the problems previously outlined, plus many more that were not mentioned, it would seem that at times Pembroke Pines was a malfunctioning community, but this was not so. In the early years controversies were common, but at the same time the city was growing and capably handling its affairs. The elections that were called too often in the citys infancy, many of them on Saturdays, finally settled down to one spring election every two years, plus the mandatory fall state and national elections. The Board of Adjustment is doing its duty without interference. The Charter Board, having done its major job of refining the citys operating document, is now appointed
by the city commission, on call for any needed revisions. The commission handles its responsibilities without loss of efficiency after its reduction to five members. There will no doubt be a re-emergence of some issues, as certain as the return of bell bottom pants and platform shoes. But, as we observed our 33rd birthday [in 1993], the major kinks in running the city had long been smoothed out, so that future elected officials and residents could feel confident in the stability and fine environment of Pembroke Pines.
Three Decades, Four City Halls
In the fall of 1988, a gleaming new, state-of-the-art city hall was dedicated
in the City of Pembroke Pines. The ultra modern, three-building complex is in keeping with the amazing growth and commitment to the future of the now 50 year old community. While we celebrate this new institution, a brief recall of the previous city halls is of interest.
When the Village of Pembroke Pines was incorporated in February 1959, there were no municipal facilities these would all have to be created by the pioneer residents. The second ordinance passed by the villages Board of Aldermen was to designate Mayor Walter Kipnis and his wife Estelles spacious home as the village hall. Late in 1959, the village was dissolved, but the Pembroke Pines Civic Association had started a community center building on Southwest 13th Street at Southwest 67th Way. The land had been donated, and with more donations of materials and residents labor and a town appropriation of $2,000, a plain, presentable structure grew. The citizens reincorporated in January 1960, and by late 1960 the center was complete enough to be turned over to the village by the Civic Association to be used for municipal offices. It was valued at $55,000 and paid for in full.
The building was expanded over the years. The police station annex, built by the department personnel, and a utility department office were added on. A First City Hall, completed in 1960, SW 13 Street at SW 67 Way, c. 1980 (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
Kipnis Home, Southwest 69th Avenue at Southwest 13th Street, c. 1982 (Image courtesy of Pembroke Pines Historical Museum)
14 broward Legacy
second small building served as city department offices, and eventually as the city-operated library.
By the late 1960s, the towns growth was so rapid it was obvious that the hall had become obsolete for government operations. Discussion continued about how to obtain better facilities. Mayor Kipniss plan for a parcel of land on then Hollywood Boulevard did not meet with the council or residents approval. Eventually, an offer from the Pembroke Lakes developers to turn over their sales offices at Taft Street and Palm Avenue was accepted, and the City Hall complex was dedicated on November 13, 1976. The price was approximately $300,000 for a group of four wooden structures on low pilings, connected by walkways and situated next to a lake. The residents of the Pines Village area were unhappy to lose the distinction of having the government center in their midst, but it was inevitable that as the population center of the city was moving west, so must the City Hall. The old city hall became a senior citizens center.
The city officials and employees were
pleased with all the room, in contrast to their former crowded facility. The site and tropical pavilion style of the new offices made for a unique city hall. But soon, as was expected, this complex was inadequate. Although they were charming and different, the wooden buildings were hard to maintain and the design was inefficient for business. Once again, the city was looking for a permanent seat of government that would serve its needs well into the twenty-first century.
The call for architectural design bids went out; the final choice was from the firm of Bouterse and Fabregas of Miami, and the cost was to be around $3 million. The land, at the corner of Pines Boulevard and Palm Avenue, had been donated by Ed Ansin. Much opposition was raised when the architects rendering was presented. Critics seemed to want something more conservative. Mayor Flanagan and the majority of commissioners stuck to their opinions and votes, and proceeded with the permits and plans. A frustrating delay was caused by the States declaration that the site was a marsh land, and should be preserved. By promising to create
another wetland area elsewhere, the city was allowed to proceed. The two major architects passed away during the building process and the Architectural Partnership of Pembroke Pines finished the project, with the final cost close to $4 million.
With a brilliant sun reflecting off the blue mirror-glass surfaces of the three buildings, Mayor Chuck Flanagan, the city commissioners, invited dignitaries and citizens dedicated the new city hall on October 22, 1988. The entire complex was named the Charles Flanagan Government Center and the six-story structure, the Woodward M. Hampton Administration Building. Woodward (Woody) Hampton was the long-term city manager of Pembroke Pines.
Some residents have emphatically stated their dislike of the complex, while others admire it. Beth Dunlop, architecture critic for The Miami Herald, described it as . . . a sophisticated design, audacious and sculptural and, In design [the three-story building] is an abstraction of a barn a nod to the fact that Pembroke Pines, not long ago, was mostly marsh and pasture-land . . .
Pines City Hall, Taft Street west of Palm Avenue, former showrooms of Pembroke Lakes Subdivision, c. 1976-1988 (Image Courtesy of Pembroke Pines Historical Museum)
Volume 30 number 1 broward Legacy 15
Whatever ones opinion, the present city hall is a stunning statement for the city. It cannot be ignored. As years go by, it will be admired and defended, simply because it is ours. Beth Dunlop also said, the new city hall takes . . . an important first step toward instilling a sense of identity, a civic pride.
Pembroke Pines sta r ted as a residential community, and remains one today. The types of living areas, however, have changed over the years. The first neighborhood was Pines Village, where individual contractors built single family homes. Later, condominiums were introduced as a new style in residential development.
Pembroke Lakes on Taft Street west of Palm Avenue, designed in the 1970s as a complete neighborhood, contained single-family homes, condominiums and townhouses. Century Village at Southwest 136th Avenue south of Pines Boulevard is a condominium community of 15,000 residents. Other condominiums came on line as these apartment-style complexes appealed to senior citizens. West of Flamingo Road, builders developed gated communities restricted to owners access. These were popular and after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, had a great surge in growth. Farther west and closer to U.S. 27 and the Everglades, where the land elevation is only a few feet above sea level, single-family homes on one or more acres were built.
Another for m of resident ia l development, condominiums, began in the early 1970s. Hollybrook Condominiums, started in 1973 and located south of Pines Boulevard and west of Douglas Road, was the first major project of its kind in Pembroke Pines. Two others followed: Park Place and Colony Point within the Pembroke Lakes master plan community, west of Palm Avenue between Johnson and Sheridan streets.
Current Vice-Mayor Jack McClusky wrote an account of how and why the City of Pembroke Pines changed from a seven-member City Council to a five-member City Commission form of government in a research paper he did in pursuit of his Masters Degree in Public Administration at Florida Atlantic University:
When the Century Village retirement condo project was proposed, with a potential of 15,000 residents, the current city officials knew that this many senior citizen residents, who usually voted as a bloc, could easily control every City Council seat.
The elected Charter Review Board (CRB), entrusted with the drawing up of the citys constitution (called a charter in Florida) that empowered the operation of the city, began studying a new system of electing city officials that would prevent one condo from controlling all the citys council members. A proposal on the 1983 ballot to establish numbered designated seats had been approved. Now the CRB took a further step: the study of
creating four districts with equal number of voters in each district electing their representative on the City Commission, and the mayor chosen by all the voters.
The CRB contracted with a professor from FAUs political science department to draw up a districting plan. The experts plan was within the legal framework but did not take into account the political background of Pembroke Pines. It split one condo between two districts, and put two other large condos into one district. It also put some current elected officials into the same districts, sure to cause friction among them and raise their objections to the plan.
Current Vice-Mayor Jack McCluskey, having been recently defeated for reelection to the city council in 1982, began his own study of how best to create a districting plan. He developed three plans: 1) Seven members with six commissioners elected from six designated districts, mayor elected at large, two-year terms, elections every year; 2) five members with four commissioners elected from four districts, mayor at large, two-year terms, elections every year; 3) five members with four commissioners from four districts, mayor elected at large, four-year terms, elections every two years.
McCluskey felt that Plan #3 was the most effective for the city. Now he quietly discussed the plans with a few CRB members, who happened to be long time friends. McCluskey also approached Mayor Chuck Flanagan and City Manager Woodward (Woody) Hampton, outlining his proposal. Separately they all agreed that Plan #3 was the best.
After long discussions at a CRB meeting that included a revised plan from the FAU professor, and public comment, Mayor Flanagan laid on the table the three plans developed by McCluskey, without identifying the author. The CRB voted to accept Plan #3. The CRBs attorney drafted the plan and wrote the ballot question that would go before the voters. Following city charter procedure, the City Council voted to place the item on the ballot.
Now the campaign to sell the proposal to the public was begun. A political action committee (PAC) was created by Mayor Flanagan with advice Statue of the late Red Buttons, nationally recognized stand-up comedian and actor, and advertising
spokesperson for Century Village, c. 1970s (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
16 broward Legacy
and participation from McCluskey; the mayor became the chief salesman. He convinced the leaders of the major condos that it was in their best interest to support the issue. He spoke at the condos, citizen organizations and candidates nights. The PAC ran newspaper ads and sent flyers to the voters. On election night Tuesday, March 13, 1984, the citizens learned that a huge 76% majority had voted in favor of the proposed five-member commission.
The owner of a large tract of land north of then Hollywood Boulevard asked to be annexed to Pembroke Pines; this was approved. Soon another owner asked that his property, west of University Drive and north of Hollywood Boulevard be annexed. The addition of property north of North Perry Airport allowed westward expansion, fulfilling the contiguous property requirement of annexation.
Now, in 2010, about 55 years after the first homes were built, our population stands at more than 150,000. We are the second largest city in land area in Broward County, encompassing more than 34 square miles. One large tract of land, 113 acres just west of City Hall, is in the planning stages for a City Center. This will include government facilities a new city hall commercial sites, a hotel and varied housing complexes. It will have a large patio and park-like area that will
serve as a cultural and social gathering place for the residents.
Educational Institutions - Schools
The first public school in the new town was the Pembroke Pines Elementary School at Southwest 9th Street and Southwest 66th Avenue. In 1961-62, it was just a group of portable classrooms in an open field, shaded by a grove of live oak trees. Finally, in 1964, a permanent building was dedicated; but because the city was growing so fast, the portable structures were used for many years. To help ease the crowded classrooms, Pembroke Pines became an innovator and started its own charter school system. The system now consists of four elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school. Broward County Public Schools has six elementary schools, three middle schools and one high school within the city boundaries. Additionally, there are many private primary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education within the city, which has always put a high value on educational opportunities.
Educational Institutions - Broward Community College South Campus
On January 15, 1991, a tornado swept north from Miami-Dade County and across North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines. Damage was extensive to hangars and planes at Crescent Airways and a modular classroom building at Broward
College South Campus was destroyed. Other buildings were battered and several trees splintered. This natural whirl-wind was mild, however, compared to the political storm that swirled about the founding of the campus in the 1970s.
President Dr. Hugh Adams of then Broward Community College approached the Broward County Commission in the summer of 1970. He knew the 100-acre northeast corner of the county-owned airport was surplus U.S. government property, so he asked the Commission for the free transfer of the site for school use. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would not allow this; it had final say on airport usage. Instead, it wanted $3.6 million, based on the highest and best use, an appraisal formula.
Dr. Adams appealed to the Pembroke Pines Planning and Zoning Board on November 14, 1973, asking it to change the zoning from agricultural to educational, hoping therefore to get a lower price. The request was approved and in early January the City Council validated the change with little discussion.
Suddenly, a flare-up of anti-campus sentiment was orchestrated by a small group of Pembroke Pines residents. Slanderous f lyers were distributed, letters to local newspapers written and the neighborhood was agitated into believing the worst possible calamities would occur if the campus was built. Riots, drug use, uncontrolled traffic and undesirable people were the objections most mentioned.
The January 21, 1974, Pines Council meeting was packed with opponents presenting a petition containing 140 names. The council reacted by rezoning by a 4-3 vote, and approved by a 4-3 tally, a future public hearing to hear the other side. Dr. Adams and his staff remained calm and continued to pursue the objective.
Pines Middle School was the site of the February 14, 1974, public hearing that attracted around 400 people. Dr. Adams, Dr. Clinton Hamilton, Dr. Walter C. Young, a former Broward Community College trustee and pioneer resident of Pembroke Pines, and officials from Davie (location of the main campus) attended. They presented their plans for the school, while the protest group raised their
The Fury of the Storm, Broward Community College South Campus, January 16, 1991 (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
Volume 30 number 1 broward Legacy 17
objections. The council members side-stepped any decisions, saying they could not vote outside City Hall.
At its March 1974 meeting, the City of Pembroke Pines Council, by a 6-1 vote, rejected the rezoning and instead adopted a resolution asking the County Commission to rezone the property for recreational use. At the same meeting, the Flamingo West Development Company offered 100 acres adjacent to C. B. Smith Park to the school. Later, Dr. Adams thanked the developers and stated that examination of many parcels in South Broward showed that the airport site was the only one meeting all state criteria.
While negotiating with city and county officials, Dr. Adams also was assuring the FAA that the campus would not lead to closure of the airport, but would instead enhance it with its aviation programs. He looked for approval of the site acquisition and a reasonable price, but nothing was done through the summer and fall.
In December 1974, in response to inquir ies to FAA officials, an announcement came from Washington that the land transfer was totally unacceptable and no action had been taken. Later that
month, the FAA said the airport would have to undergo an environmental review.
Finally, on February 7, 1975, the FAA notified Broward Community College that the college could receive the property, but the selling price was not mentioned.
In March, the FAA called for a new appraisal, as the previous one dated from 1972. A shake-up at the FAA occurred when FAA Director Alexander Butterfield and former White House security chief for President Richard Nixon, suddenly resigned. June brought a confirmation of the $3.6 million valuation. A compromise was offered by Broward Community College indirect benefits such as college aviation programs, could perhaps lower the price. The influence of Senator Lawton Chiles in Washington, D.C. was enlisted, but he could get the FAA to agree to only $875,000 in indirect benefits.
Meanwhile, the opponents continued their letter writing and other methods of keeping the controversy alive. The City Council asked the South Broward Park District to buy the land at $30,000 to $50,000 an acre.
In November 1975, Dr. Adams received the new appraisal $1.73 million. With the subtraction of the indirect benefits amount, the final price was $1,031,000. But now the County Commission stalled, saying they needed to restudy airport needs and find a different site for Broward Community College. However, on December 26, the commission was convinced to accept the colleges offer by new administrator Lewis Hester.
Broward County Community College Lake, 1988 (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
Beach, Pool, and Water Slides at CB Smith Park, a Broward County Park in Pembroke Pines, 1982 (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
18 broward Legacy
Headline, Hollywood Sun-Tattler, February 24, 1976: FAA REJECTS BCC LAND PURCHASE. Stalling once again, the FAA said the October 1975 appraisal did not reflect the lands fair market value, and the edge of an airport was not suitable for a campus. An April 18 meeting between FAA and school officials was held at the county courthouse to resolve differences.
Finally, on June 3, 1976, Congressman J. Herbert Burke announced from his Washington office that the FAA had accepted the low appraisal, thereby giving its consent to the schools acquisition of the property.
On Sunday, June 3, 1979, a ground breaking ceremony was held and a target opening date was set for about a year later.
Today, the Judson S. Samuels Campus of Broward College is a prestigious institution in Pembroke Pines. The full-time student enrollment is 1,560 and the 217,000 volume library serves the South Broward area. The landscaped lake with its surrounding exercise course is a magnet for local residents.
Born in a storm of controversy, South Campus is now a respected and welcomed part of the community.
The early residents in the new town knew they had to start something very important for their children in addition to
schools; they needed recreation facilities. The first ball field in Pembroke Pines was set up in a rough vacant field, opposite the town hall on Southwest 13th Street, which was filled with pine trees and rough weeds. City officials asked the county to help out, and so a section of North Perry Airport along Southwest 72nd Avenue, was set aside as the little league athletic
field, dedicated to John F. Kennedy. This is now Paul Maxwell Park. Maxwell was a pioneer resident and elected city commissioner. He became mayor when Mayor Ron Villella resigned to go to Tallahassee to work in Governor Bob Grahams administration, in 1979.
Parents helped lay sod and became coaches to get the program started. Swimming lessons were held in the homes of residents. Weekend and summer recreation programs were started at the county-operated Recreation Center on then Hollywood Boulevard.
Today, the city has one of the best recreation departments in the county, operating 32 parks and four recreation center facilities that offer softball, baseball, soccer, football, tennis, roller hockey, golf and racquet ball. As the city continued to grow westward, it surrounded an undeveloped parcel of property known as Snake Creek Park. That parcel, which was landscaped and had facilities built, is now known as C. B. Smith Park, dedicated in 1982 in honor of the Broward County Commissioner who in the late 1950s had the vision to save it as open space.
The old city hall was converted into the first senior center, until the beautiful
Imported Italian gazebo in Pembroke Lakes Mall, 1993 (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
Kenneth Hughes, Seminole Indian Wars Historian (at left), with Broward County Historical Commission Members in North Perry Airport digs, 1989. (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
Volume 30 number 1 broward Legacy 19
new Southwest Focal Point Senior Center was established in 1995. The old senior center/city hall was then remodeled into the Village Community Center. Now the Early Childhood Development Center uses the facility. A part of the building is appropriately used as the Pembroke Pines Historical Museum. The city hall on Taft Street is now just a memory, as it was torn down in the spring of 2005. The site is now Ben Fiorendino Pembroke Lakes Park, to honor a former mayor and city commissioner. The first police station was a tiny addition to the old city hall, built mostly by a handful of police officers. Eventually, the city acquired property at 9500 Pines Boulevard and built the current Pembroke Pines Police Department headquarters. Adjacent to the police department is the Pembroke Pines Fire Department headquarters. With its more than 200 employees and six stations, the fire department is rated a Class A organization.
In 1957, the first shopping areas in the city were small strip centers with convenience stores on then Hollywood Boulevard and Pembroke Road, just west of the Florida Turnpike. The major Pembroke Lakes Mall, located at the junction of Pines Boulevard and Flamingo Road, has become a regional attraction for south Broward and north Miami-Dade counties. In 2007, the Shops at Pembroke Gardens outdoor shopping center opened on Southwest 145th Avenue, just east of
Interstate 75 and south of Pines Boulevard.
In the early years, residents had to drive to Memorial Hospital in Hollywood for medical care. The city was happy to welcome Pembroke Pines General Hospital in the 1970s, when it opened at Sheridan Street and University Drive. That hospital is now a part of Memorial Healthcare Systems. Memorial Hospital West was built on Flamingo Road,
north of Pines Boulevard and adjacent to the Pembroke Lakes Mall. It has expanded many times to meet the growing population, and added a professional office building and six-level parking garage.
As the post-World War II population exploded, the need for new streets and highways also grew. The Florida Turnpike wended its way through open pasture and pine forests on the eastern edge of Pembroke Pines beginning in 1957. Interstate 75 was constructed, from Miami-Dade County through western Pembroke Pines, and then connected with the former State Road 84, heading west from Fort Lauderdale crossing the Everglades as Alligator Alley. U.S. 27, dating from 1927, at the far western reaches of Pembroke Pines, became our western border. When the last large piece of acreage was annexed from Flamingo Road to U.S. 27, it took in Holly Lakes Mobile Home community. West of a canal on U.S. 27 is Water Conservation Area #3 and the vast Everglades.
The dramatic economic downturn has caused a temporary halt to the development of the City Center. But, the central location on prime property on our main street should in the near future attract major developers to complete the project. As it has in the past, the city will
Broward County Archaeological Society Participants in North Perry Airport Digs, 1989 (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
North Perry Field Administration Building and Control Tower, c. 1989 (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
20 broward Legacy
continue to evolve, updating facilities as needed and adding others that are desired. The city has faithfully followed its slogan: Join us Progress with us.
Aviation Hotspot Still Thriving After 68 Years!
One of the truly historic sites in Pembroke Pines is North Perry Airport. This World War II airfield was built on a part of Henry D. Perrys dairy farm, as a satellite of Naval Air Station Miami in Opa-Locka, Dade County.
Located between Pines Boulevard and Pembroke Road (south and north), and University Drive and Southwest 72nd Avenue (east and west), in the City of Pembroke Pines, North Perry Airport has been a popular, highly used facility since the end of the World War II.
Sometime during late 1942 or early 1943, at the height of World War II, North Perry Field came on line. On its wagon-wheel designed runways F4F Wild Cat pilots practiced taking off and landing skills for their future destination on aircraft carriers.
When the war ended in 1945, the U.S. Navy refused to return the 640-acre piece of property to its former owner, dairyman Henry D. Perry. The airport continued to be used by small plane owners, with Miramar resident Richard Basinger acting
manager. In 1957, the U.S. Navy issued a quit-claim deed, turning the airport over to the Broward County Aviation Department, where it remains today along with Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Newer residents were often puzzled as to why an airport sat in a residential area, not realizing that the towns of Miramar south of Pembroke Road, and Pembroke Pines to its north, encroached on the airfield, once completely open dairy farm pasture of the pre-war era. Opportunities to create other general aviation airports in more remote locations were not acted upon by the Broward County government and were eventually lost in the rapid post-World War II residential growth in the area.
In 1989, Hollywood resident and Seminole Indian Wars historian Kenneth Hughes had been exploring some areas on North Perry Airport with his metal detector. He was successful in retrieving some World War II artifacts along with Pembroke Pines historian Gerry Witoshynsky, and members of the Broward County Archaeological Society. They excavated .30 and .50 caliber bullet shells, three gun barrels and numerous unidentifiable plane and vehicle parts. A handful of .50 caliber bullets turned up near the control tower site. Since the
ammunition was still live, it had to be disarmed. Several World War II pennies made without scarce copper were also found along with a British-made Rolls razor kit, manufactured of stainless steel. This perfectly preserved kit is a prized item. Cafeteria items once housed in the administration building and control tower were found. One site had household items thought to be from the time the property was used by the Perry family as part of their dairy farm. Some of these artifacts are on display at the Pembroke Pines Historical Museum while others were donated to the Broward County Historical Commission.
Until 2008, the most historic structure in Pembroke Pines was the original
MetLife Snoopy Blimp and Sea World Shamu Blimp moored at North Perry Airport, c. 1990s. Spectators can go to the rear of the Paul Maxwell Park baseball field and get a close-up view of the blimps as they come and go from their moorings. (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
The Sportatorium, c. 1990 (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
Volume 30 number 1 broward Legacy 21
administration building and control tower near the airports main entrance on Pembroke Road, built in 1943. The three-story tower and two one-story wings were used by various businesses over the years. Decades later, in the mid 2000s, the airport management closed the building after heavy roof damage from hurricanes Katrina and Wilma. Efforts by Pelican Airways owner Terry Fensome, Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis and the City Commission, Broward County Historical Commission and County Historian Helen Landers, and others anxious to save the structure because of its historic value, were unsuccessful. In April 2008, the venerable World War II relic was demolished.
For decades, advertising blimps have operated from the field during the winter months. Seventeen different lighter-than-air craft have been recorded at the airport, sometimes three at a time.
At a grassy part of the property along University Drive, pilots dive down in their vintage one-engine planes to snatch aerial signs and then gun their engines in a steep take-off to hoist the signs skyward for trips along the ocean beaches or over the Dolphins football stadium. This has been an activity at the field since the late 1950s, started by Jimmy Butler and his father.
Along Pines Boulevard, three major South Broward television channels base their news-gathering helicopters near the airport managers office.
Despite several tragic accidents in its 68-year existence, North Perry Airport has added excitement, style and color to our city, and has been a valuable part of our history!
The Sportatorium and Points West
The most well known establishment in Pembroke Pines and South Florida in the 1970s and 1980s was the Sportatorium. Those who came in the 1960s and 1970s would know it well, as they were attracted to this roughly built arena where they would be entertained by most of the wildly popular rock music bands that were then the epitome of music entertainment.
The concerts were initiated in 1970 in the 15,000-seat, cement block structure with a corrugated metal roof. It had no air conditioning in its early years and the one installed in 1976 did little to
cool the building. The few amenities, such as restrooms and concessions, were overwhelmed by the crush of the multitude of hyperactive concertgoers.
The trip to the Sportatorium was an adventure in itself; the road was a narrow, two-lane asphalt Hollywood Boulevard, originating at the ocean in Hollywood and continuing due west to U.S. 27, the north-south route from Miami to Lake Okeechobee. Some of the ticket holders would approach from the east, clogging the main street of Pembroke Pines for miles, from the Florida Turnpike and U.S. 441. Others would drive north on U.S. 27 and turn east on western Hollywood Boulevard to reach the Sportatorium.
Miami-Hollywood Speedway Park, c. 1977 (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
Willies Bar, c. 1990 (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
The hippy generation, as the kids were known, thought these concerts were the greatest! They were participating in the rage of the age: loud, incomprehensible, ear-drum-shattering noise in the Sportatorium, the only South Florida venue available for this type of performance. The acoustics were terrible, according to the musicians and the spectators. Nevertheless, when the youngsters could be in the same building with such superstars as The Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin, nothing else mattered!
The final show in October 1988 featured country music acts Highway 101, the Desert Rose Band and Larry Boone. The badly deteriorated building was torn down in 1993, and a Sedanos market now occupies the space on Pines Boulevard at Northwest 172nd Avenue.
In its heyday, the Sportatorium was infamous as well as famous, and it will be fondly recalled by concertgoers as an experience of a life-time! My sons John and Mike were two participants. They would come home saturated with strange smoky odors, and once with both rear-view mirrors missing from their car.
Next to the Sportatorium, the Miami-Hollywood Speedway Park was the site of drag races, with the noise of their huge
22 broward Legacy
engines splitting the country air. Non-professionals could bring their souped up cars and try them out on the quarter-mile track.
Farther west, Willies Bar was a stop for hunters and fishermen going to and from the Everglades. It stood for many years on then Hollywood Boulevard in the vicinity of 190th Avenue. The rusty sign for Willies Bar hung for years until the whole ramshackle place was torn down.
Hollywood Inc. land developers held many acres of property on the north side of the Boulevard, under the West Fork Ranch name. Until residential and commercial development reached that far west, landowners would maintain cattle on their rezoned agricultural property and receive a tax break.
From this 1954 beginning, Pembroke Pines spread westward as far as it could goU.S. 27 and the eastern edge of the Everglades. On its 50th anniversary in 2010, Pembroke Pines is the second largest city in Broward County and has a population of more than 150,000 people.
______________________1. For further information on the Perry family and
the history of this area see Gerry Witoshynskys Memories of West Hollywood: An Interview With Annabel Perry, Broward Legacy, Summer/Fall 1995, Vol. 18, nos. 3-4, pp. 13 20.
2. Mortgage Registry, #572228, 5-7-1954 Document # 55, Abstract of Title Continuation, #184784 for Lot 19, Block 9, Page #2 recorded in Plat Book 35, P. 46, Public Records of Broward Co., Florida.
3. On October 1, 1973, City Commission (then Council) adopted Resolution 656, renaming Hollywood Boulevard to Pines Boulevard within the City Limits of Pembroke Pines. The resolution was to become effective January 1, 1974. [The text refers to both Hollywood Boulevard and Pines Boulevard. Selection is based on occurrence of an event (e.g., before or after January 1, 1974) or reference to the present tense.]
6. Mayor Walter Seth and Mrs. Estelle Kipnis 1961 Scrapbook, in the collections of the Pembroke Pines Historical Museum.
7. On October 1, 1973, Commission (then Council) adopted Resolution 656, renaming Hollywood Boulevard to Pines Boulevard within the City Limits of Pembroke Pines. The resolution was to become effective January 1, 1974.
8. Ed Seney, South Broward Review, Hollywood Sun-Tattler, October, 7, 1967.
9. Hollywood Sun-Tattler, October 7,1967 (No reporters name given).
West Fork Ranch, c. 1990 (Photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
10. Consolidation Study Falls Flat in Pines, Fort Lauderdale News, March 5, 1968.
12. McCluskey, Jack, A Case Study: Organizations and Administrative Behavior, 1995, Research paper for pursuit of Masters Degree in Public Administration at Florida Atlantic University.
13. Dunlop, B. (1988, November 6). City Halls give Broward towns strong sense of identity. The Miami Herald, p. K5.
15. McCluskey, Jack, A Case Study: Organizations and Administrative Behavior, 1995, Research paper for pursuit of Masters Degree in Public Administration at Florida Atlantic University.
16. Broward Community College is now Broward College.
17. Sun-Reporter, June 3, 1976, p. 11.
18. Hollywood Sun-Tattler, June 4, 1979, p. 1-A.
19. For further information on North Perry Airport during World War II see Gerry Witoshynskys Bombers Over Broward, Broward Legacy, Winter-Spring 1991, Vol. 14, nos. 1-2, pp. 15 19.
20. The Miami Herald, April 29, 2008.
21. See note 3.
Volume 30 number 1 broward Legacy 23
The Pembroke Pines Historical Society incorporated in 1980 under the leadership of city pioneers Estelle Kipnis and Gerry Witoshynsky. Estelle and her husband, Dr. Walter Seth Kipnis, established their home in the first 1954 subdivision of Pembroke Pines #1, and were leaders in organizing the community toward incorporation as a village in 1959.
After the first incorporation attempt failed on legal technicalities, a January 1960 election succeeded and Dr. Kipnis was re-elected as mayor. The Kipnises started preserving newspaper clippings in 1954; these scrapbooks became the first documents of the society. Witoshynsky started collecting newspaper clippings in 1980, believing they provided an ongoing historical outline of the growth of the city.
When Mrs. Kipnis was no longer able to participate and the Historical Society dissolved, Witoshynsky continued the work of collecting and saving all materials pertinent to the citys history. Since 1980, the city has provided museum space for the collection of newspapers, city documents, maps, photographs, organization scrapbooks, publications and books. The museums purpose is simple: collect, preserve and disseminate the citys history.
Today the museum is housed in an appropriate facility the original Village and then City Hall, now the Village Community Center.
In September 2008, the museum dedicated its World War II Continuing Exhibit, honoring the hundreds of veterans who have retired to this community. The collection continues to grow with the museum receiving uniforms, guns, medals, maps, newspaper clippings and most importantly, World War II photos from local veterans.
As the city celebrates 50 progressive years, Pembroke Pines residents are encouraged to join the Friends of the Museum to assist City Historian and Museum Director Gerry Witoshynsky and volunteer staff in the ongoing work of preserving Pembroke Pines history.
The museum is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 4 p.m. Special hours may be arranged for groups. The museum is located at 6700 S.W. 13th Street, Pembroke Pines, Florida, 33028. Visitors may contact the museum by calling 954-986-5049 or emailing [email protected]
The Pembroke Pines Historical MuseumBy Gerry Witoshynsky
Pembroke Pines Historical Museum World War II Exhibit Dedication, September 13, 2008. World War II Veterans Charlie Ober (left) and Fred DeCicco (Photo by Johnny Mullin)
24 broward Legacy
When Grandpa Roscoe Fritchey first came to Florida in 1914, he had come to see if what he had heard about South Florida was true. People riding the trains coming from Tampa through Arkansas told about how green and rich the land was in the winter and summer.
He worked on the train in Arkansas. He rode the train down to Kenansville [Florida] just north of Lake Okeechobee I think that was as far as the train went at that time. Later his youngest sister married a man that worked for the railroad there and they spent the rest of their lives there. But to travel on down to the Everglades and the new little towns, you had to walk eight or 10 miles to Lake Marian and catch a boat, go down the Kissimmee River to Lake Okeechobee, and then to the Caloosahatchee River and on to Fort Myers. Neither Grandpa nor anyone else had any money then to pay to ride the boat, but you could help load or unload the boat and pay to ride and eat that way.
The great crops and hogs and cattle he saw were something he had never seen before. The crops growing at the hotel at Ritta, or what is Lake Harbor now, were so green and pretty and the cattle and hogs were just running loose, eating live oak acorns, palmetto berries and guava [fruit]. These were mostly in the
Old WallsBy John Fritchey
John Fritchey roamed the South Florida wilds as a youngster. He accompanied his father and grandfather who knew the Broward County area well from farming and working for other pioneers in the early 1900s, who gleaned a living from the natural bounty of South Florida. Throughout his life, he would listen and remember as the old-timers told of their experiences in the area. John recorded many of these stories in his book, Everglades Journal. John has given the Pembroke Pines Historical Museum permission to print another one of his remembrances, Old Walls (dated 1976), taken from his original hand-written notes, which were edited by Gerry Witoshynsky. John Fritcheys recollections were written in the dialect characteristic of early Twentieth Century Florida. Gerry was careful to retain this manner of speech. He lives now in Clarksville, Georgia, still a keen observer of natures handiwork!
-Gerry Witoshynsky, Pembroke Pines City Historian
John Fritchey, March 6, 2003. (photo by Gerry Witoshynsky)
Volume 30 number 1 broward Legacy 25
big cypress in the Callaway Cootchee Slough or along the Caloosahatchee River. Grandpa stayed one winter and went back to Arkansas, and later in 1922, moved the family to the Everglades. I think they worked [during] 1922 in the fields at the Hammonville [area] close to Pompano and around Vero Beach before coming to the lake. There, he farmed some and also worked cleaning ground for some of the farmers.
There was only one way to clear land in the 1920s on the lake by hand with axes and machete or by burning most of the islands, ridges or a hammock. Where it was low muck land, they had some tractors to plow that up. But almost all custard apple trees or moonvine and hammock ground had to be cleared by hand. Grandpa worked lots of times clearing these and there were many blacks and whites clearing the land and most times they got $25 to $30 an acre to clear it there. Clearing this ground is where grandpa hit his foot with the machete and cut it real bad, and blood poison set in and he had to have his leg taken off. He had to wear a peg leg the rest of his life. This is where a lot of information was learned about what was at some of these sites hundreds of years before grandpa
and some of the blacks and whites cleared these old places. This is the way most boat landing and old pineapple and cane farms were found by the settlers. There were rock walls at almost all boat landings and also at cattle or hog loading places, which were also boat landings.
Where syrup was made there were piles of rocks where the syrup pans sat. And at hog or cattle loading boat la