By: Sharon Aron Baron
In less than a year in office, Broward County Commissioner Marty Kiar has found that the best ideas come from his constituents. One idea in particular is to make county parks free for veterans with service related disabilities. He found not only was it a great idea, it was also the right thing to do.
Plantation resident Andy Rubenstein, a disabled Desert Storm veteran, sent Kiar an email after being turned away from a county park when he had no cash on him at the time. Rubenstein was surprised that Broward County charged admission to disabled veterans after visiting state and federal parks for free. Rubinstein then contacted the Parks and Recreation Department who told him that he would have to contact his Broward County Commissioner.
Once Kiar received Rubenstein’s email, he was surprised himself to find out that Broward County parks charged disabled veterans admission when state and federal parks didn’t, and so he decided it needed to be changed.
“Florida provides an identification card to disabled veterans if they apply for it. Using this card they can get into our state parks for free,” said Kiar. “The same should apply in Broward County. We had our first meeting and the whole commission was very supportive about changing this.”
Commander Harry Ahrens of VFW Post 1966 said they are “Grateful for the recognition of our disabled veterans and the sacrifices they have made for our great nation.” Ahrens said that it is important that their service, as well as the service of all military veterans and those currently serving, is acknowledged and appreciated.
Admission is charged to enter Broward County regional parks on weekends and holidays, not during the week. Fees range from $1.50 per person and an $8 maximum fee for vehicles with six to nine people and a $20 maximum fee for commercial vehicles or school buses. Annual park passports are also available for purchase at a discounted cost.
“I can’t imagine a huge amount is going to be lost. This proposal governs any county park that charges an admission fee. The veteran that has a service related disability would get in free,” said Mayor Kristin Jacobs.
Broward County Commissioners are asking for public comment at a public hearing set for August 27 at 2:00 p.m. at the Broward Governmental Center, Room 422, 115 South Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale.