Palm Beach County’s desperate struggle to fix up its dangerous beaches

Traffic often has to be detoured in Taddle Creek Park in Pembroke Pines, Florida. That’s because it is visited by thousands of people each day, many of whom drop flower heads and socks and teddy bears and other items there in memory of loved ones lost – something the city has learned.

One memorial, however, needs more attention: An oak tree lost by car crash in February 2012 has been sitting just off two sets of stairs leading to the grassy area. The ceremony was held there in February 2013, with Maureen D. O’Neil, then commissioner of the South Broward Park District, presiding. In June 2014, it was moved to a boulevard alongside the road, but a motorist left the road to cut the tree down and the memorial on September 23, 2015 was planted instead at the site of the tree it formerly stood.

That angered several local residents. In May 2016, the park commissioner quit in protest, and in August 2017, Pembroke Pines mayor Frank Ortis proposed moving the memorial. “There’s no historic marker about the tree that’s there at this point,” he told the Sun Sentinel. “There are rules that have been put in place.” But now the memorial – or what’s left of it – is slated to be replaced by an “adult playground”, with plans for a stroller-accessible playground and individual play structures.

“I don’t have a problem with the park, I have a problem with making people think this is just a park,” said Pat Aggarwal. “Taddle Creek Park is a phenomenal place.”

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