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5 - The Ranches - The Heart of Parkland

Bruce Barnett Blount, the founder of Parkland, was born on December 9, 1918 in Pompano. He went to the local public schools, graduated from Pompano High School and graduated from college with a degree in animal husbandry. After serving in World War II, he returned to this area, living in Pompano. He was elected Mayor of Pompano Beach in 1956 and served as a Commissioner from 1957 to 1960.

In the early-1960s, Bruce and his wife, Lois Nell (Hyde) Blount from Mississippi, inherited land in the northwest corner of Broward County from his parents. Bruce loved farm animals, particularly horses and cattle which he raised on the land. Mr. Blount had a vision to form a city on a portion of the land he owned. He hired civil engineers and surveyors to prepare 360 acres, with a reserve of 60 acres, for platting purposes, describing particular lots to offer for sale. He did not include the land he owned further west with the intent to have a protected portion dedicated for agricultural use. He created certain covenants to lie with the land which related to agricultural uses, preferred animals and named the plats BBB Ranches. His intent for Parkland was to encourage retirees who liked animals and country living to move there. 

Bruce Blount sought the assistance of Florida House Representative, Emerson Allsworth to seek approval for a city charter. Mr. Allsworth had a difficult task in persuading Representatives to approve the charter since the land only had an estimated seven to nine residents. Additional resistance came from the targeted name, The Ranches, because there were other private ranch communities in north Florida. At the last moment, Mr. Allsworth substituted the name of Parkland. The City Charter was approved by the Florida House of Representatives on July 10, 1963. The Parkland City Charter was signed by Florida Governor Farris Bryant and recorded in Tallahassee on August 13, 1963.

During the first few years, the BBB Ranches grew to four sections: 

  • The original ran from Holmberg Road (now Ranch Road) to 72nd Street (Trotters Lane) and included 81st Terrace (Appaloosa Drive), 82nd Terrace (Charlais Drive), 83rd Terrace (Palamino Drive) and 84th Avenue (Parkland Drive). 
  • The second section ran from Trotters Lane to 81st Street along 82nd Terrace and 84th Avenue, except for the northeast section of this acreage. 
  • The third section ran from Holmberg Road to Trotters Lane between Parkland Drive and NW 87th Avenue (Pacer’s Drive). 
  • The final section ran between Trotter’s Lane and Holmberg Road between 87th Avenue and approximately University Drive (present site of the Municipal Complex and Kol Tikvah) and included 66th Lane (Pinto Lane), 68th Court (Quarterhorse Lane) and 70th Court (Arabian Lane). 
During the first years, the mayor and commissioners were appointed, not elected. When the Charter was recorded for Parkland, Bruce B. Blount, the cattleman and former Mayor of Pompano Beach, became the Founding Mayor. In December 1963, he established a governing body and asked individuals well-known in Broward County to be the first temporary commissioners: Bob McMichael, Walter L. Maule, John M. Gerren, Jr. and John R. Nelson. All of these commissioners and the mayor lived in Pompano Beach, not Parkland.
In 1963, Parkland had about 22 citizens and a total of 9 homes. Mr. Blount encouraged gentleman farmers to bring their young families to Parkland and allow them, through the covenants, to forever engage in farming and ranching. He prescribed the minimum land size to be a minimum of 2.5 acres.

In March 1965, Mr. Blount continued as Mayor but Walter L. Maule and John R. Nelson were replaced on the Commission by Richard Smith and Van Coggins, a cattleman and builder, who became Vice Mayor.

In November 1965, Mr. Blount appointed Van Coggins as the first “official” Mayor to avoid a conflict of interest since Mr. Blount resided outside the city limits. Bruce Blount continued to attend to his cattle operation west of the city and ultimately retired to Lake Placid, FL. 

Mayor Coggins was both a cattleman and builder; he provided his personal residence’s dining room for official City Commission meetings making his home the first ‘unofficial’ Parkland City Hall.

1965 through 1969 were gateway years for families willing to pioneer to become gentleman farmers or ranchers. Most residents had no knowledge of farming or ranching. Wells had to be drilled to supply each homestead with potable water since it was not being provided.

Many of the early mayors and commissioners were unpaid volunteers and gave their time, money and abilities to support the wholesome opportunity of the new pioneers of Parkland.  Pioneers like Bruce Blount and Van Coggins held the community together. The present residents of Parkland owe these two men their gratitude for creating Parkland and making the city the outstanding community it has become.

Written by James Weiss; Contributions by Harold Bockhold;

Edited by Ira Goldman and Carolyn Marks;

Archive Retrieval by Pierre Hodot; Design and Art Work by Bill Reicherter;

Parkland Historical Society President Jeff Schwartz;