FOUNDERS PARK: THE CENTERPIECE OF ISLAMORADA
In November of 1997 Islamorada voters decided to incorporate as “Islamorada, Village of Islands.” And then in March of 1998 we elected our very first council, five individuals who were tasked with setting up a new government, renting an office, hiring a manager, creating an initial budget, establishing various government departments including the building department along with building permit procedures and fees, negotiating a solid waste contract, dealing with a Hurricane Georges and so much more.
Less than eight months into that inaugural first council term, the council passed a resolution on October 8, 1998 to spend $9 million to purchase a 40-acre marina and resort, Plantation Yacht Harbor. It was to be a community park. They chose to use local tax dollars, instead of grants, to pay the entire cost so they would have no restrictions on the future use of the property. With funding in place, the closing took place on February 22, 1999. Click here for the resolution passed to buy the park.
And they named it Founders Park. Some people thought the name was to honor the founding families of Islamorada. Others thought the first council was patting themselves on the back and naming the park after themselves – the founding council and those brave enough to take that giant $9 million step. Either way, we love both groups of “founders.” We will be forever thankful to those first five members of council for their amazing effort and foresight: Mayor Ron Levy, Vice Mayor Frank Kulisky, Kym Collins, George Geisler and Jim Mooney.
There are two plaques near the entrance to Founders, in honor of the founding families of Islamorada from the 1800s and one acknowledging the acquisition of the property by the first Village Council.
Since the purchase, Founders Park has developed into the Islamorada centerpiece that the first council envisioned with an amazing aquatic center with Olympic caliber coaching for swimming and diving programs, a marina, beach, playground, dog park, soccer fields, baseball fields, basketball, amphitheater, community center/council meeting room, Village Hall and fire station.
We can all be so proud of Founders Park and its beauty.