Representative Clarke-Reed secures funding for historical memorial park
DEERFIELD BEACH, FL —Rep. Gwyndolen “Gwyn” Clarke-Reed is pleased to announce that the Florida Legislature has awarded $995,000 to the City of Deerfield Beach, Fla. to purchase and preserve a parcel of land that served as an African American cemetery during the segregation era. The request for the allocation came jointly from the landowner and City so a memorial park could be established at the site.
Rep. Clarke-Reed sponsored a budget request in the House and Senator Maria Sachs sponsored a companion request in the Florida Senate.
The funds approved by the Legislature, and subsequently by Governor Rick Scott, will be provided to The City of Deerfield Beach specifically to purchase the five-acre site from Rob Kassab whose family operated a successful business in Deerfield for more than 30 years. Kassab bought the property in 1986 after commissioning an archeological survey that showed no evidence of graves or human remains; and in 2005, a second study was conducted also with negative findings. However, during a new and more comprehensive study last summer conducted just prior to building 42 townhomes on the parcel, human remains were found and the study was suspended. At that point, Kassab and the City agreed to work together to seek state funds for the City to buy the land for a park.
“I am pleased that we were able to help secure funding for this very important project,” said Rep. Clarke-Reed. “A memorial park on this property will allow Deerfield Beach to commemorate and honor its citizens who would otherwise pass into obscurity, particularly when the cause of their obscurity was the racial segregation practiced in the Capitol office at (850) 717-5092, District Office (954) 786-4848.
The State has an interest in preserving its Black cemeteries from this same era for historical and educational purposes.”
While the appropriation provides funding for the land purchase at this time, the City would have the opportunity to request additional funding in next year’s State budget for the memorial park’s site work.