*To enhance the overall /general appearance of the park.
*To advocate for improved customer satisfaction and visitor relations.
*To increase membership and raise funds for the benefit of T.Y. Park.
*To promote the park as an important community resource for programs, health and fitness, and social gatherings.
*To promote a sustainable and resilient natural environment at the park.
We are always looking for volunteers to help us make our vision a reality. We'll help you find a way to volunteer that best suits you. If interested Contact us by
The Seminole Indian name for Topeekeegee Yugnee (T.Y.) Park means “meeting or gathering place.” The mission of the Friends of T. Y. Park, Inc. is to ensure that T. Y. Park continues to thrive as a health and fitness resource, social gathering place, and a sustainable and resilient natural environment.
“What’s Behind the Fence”?
(A personal relationship with T-Y Park)
By: Russell J. Sepielli
In the summer of 1958, when I was in the 8th grade, my parents moved our family from the east side of Hollywood all the way out west (at that time) to an area that is now part of Hollywood Hills. Bordered by Park Road to the east and 35th Avenue to the west most of this area was largely undeveloped. A few gravel roads with some scattered homes were all that was to be found extending west to 441, south to Pembroke Road, and north to Stirling Road. For a 13-year-old boy, and his neighborhood friends, it was paradise. Armed with B-B guns and slingshots, or fishing poles, we would go off exploring in search of adventure.
Today’s generation of younger parents may find the concept of your children going off, totally unsupervised, to be unthinkable. Well, welcome to life in the Hollywood of 60 years ago! One day our exploring took us a bit further north of our normal stomping grounds. Going across Sheridan Street, at that time, a two-lane road, we encountered what a forest covered with large oak trees. It looked like a great place to explore, but also a bit intimidating. The barbed wire fence enclosing the property held us back for a bit but
then, after walking along the fence line for a few minutes, we got up the courage to check out what was behind the fence. Finding a section where the fence wasn’t as sturdy, we crossed over onto the property. As we began walking through the woods one got the feeling of being inside a church, or better yet, a cathedral. The large trees formed a canopy over the ground; in so many places actually blocking out the sun. We soon came upon a fairly large body of water on the southeast side of the property. A lake had been created when, some years earlier, this portion of the land had been used as a rock pit. The lake was much shallower in those days as this was years before additional mining operations were to take the lake to its present depth.Teeming with bass, gar, bream and other fish, this lake became our playground. Modern-day Huck Finn’s we built wooden rafts and floated out on the lake, swimming and spearing fish. We tied ropes up in the trees bordering the east side of the lake and would swing out over the water and dive into the lake.
So at the age of 13 through 15, this property became my favorite place on earth; somehow I knew that this was a very special piece of land. Of course, to most people living in the area, the only thing significant about this land was that it was a dairy farm, Butler’s Dairy to be exact. In the mid-30’s Ben Butler had built a dairy farm in this area to supply milk to consumers in the Miami area. Thirty years later, with new housing developments popping up all over South Broward County, the land became too valuable for cows. In 1965 Butler, and his son Robert, moved the dairy farm operation to Okeechobee County. The land was donated to the county by the Butler family and a committee was formed to build a park that same year. Five years later plans were prepared for the construction of, what was to be, the first phase of site preparation work transforming the dairy farm into a park.
Coincidentally, at that time I was out of college and working for my father and uncle in the family road construction business, Du-Rite Engineering Contractors. Seeing a notice in the paper that bids were being solicited for this work I went to the architect’s office to pick up the plans and register to bid. Upon viewing the plans I was shocked to discover that a large parking lot was to be built on the southwest side of the park. In order to construct the parking lot as drawn a significant number of magnificent oak trees in that area would have to be removed. Shades of the opening verse of Joni Mitchell’s song “Big Yellow Taxi”; “…They paved paradise and put up a parking lot…”! Something had to be done to prevent this from taking place and, I figured, that the best way was to make sure that I was the low bidder, get the contract, and then see if I could get the plans changed. I proceeded to submit our quote, going in with our “cost only” price, knowing full well that we would get the contract. Of course, I did this without the knowledge of my father or uncle, figuring that it’s “better to ask for forgiveness than permission”. Oh, and get the contract we did, as we were some 20% less that the next lowest bid; and at this time I had no idea that I could get the plans changed. All of 26 years old and with more guts than brains, I figured that the only way that I could get this accomplished would be with the help of a strong ally. Several phone calls later, I was given the name of a woman who was gathering a reputation as an ardent protector of the environment in Broward County: Anne Kolb. I called Ms. Kolb, who in 1974 was to become the first female Broward County Commissioner, and she readily agreed to meet with me on the site. Her first reaction, after seeing these majestic trees was “….over my dead body”. Her only question to me, however, was “can you provide the same number of parking spaces required without taking down all the trees” After assuring her that we could provide the parking, she simply replied that she would take it from there. Within several weeks we had received permission to commence with construction. I had my road superintendent and surveyor, John Greer, meet me at the site to begin laying out the roads and parking in the area where the parking lot was supposed to be located. Having lunch recently with Mr. Greer, now nearly 80 years old and living in the Ft. Pierce area, I asked him if he recalled how we laid out parking stalls. “Well, Russell, the best that I can recall is that we just sort of meandered through the woods figuring out where we could put them”, he said. Continuing he told me, “we didn’t work off of any plans; we just had a bench mark over on the fence”. Concluding he said, “I just know that we were trying to keep as many of those oak trees as possible”. Well, John, you’ll be glad to know that, after all these years, those grand, old Live Oak trees are thriving and are the distinguishing characteristic of this beautiful park. For nearly 50 years now my family and I have enjoyed the peace and tranquility of the wonderful place. Let us work together to preserve this park for future generations.
The Friends of T.Y. Park is a non-profit organization operated by volunteers who strive to provide improvements and amenities to the Park such as dog waste stations, park benches, and landscape embellishments. Additionally, the Board of Directors work very hard to sponsor entertainment and health related events throughout the course of the year. Your membership allows us to continue to meet our goals.
Download > Print > and Complete the application found below then mail it together with your check to Friends of T.Y. Park 4600 Sheridan ST Suite 300 Hollywood, FL. , 33021 or, see application area below for further options
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and mail with check to address indicated above. Or you may E-Mail your completed application to Membership@friendsoftypark.org
and process your payment electronically via affinipay and simply insert your membership name on the reference line
Wow! what a great night of Jazz!
President and Director
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Simply complete your application as instructed on the membership page and then process your payment online and enter the name on your membership on the "Reference" Line