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HomeAt Home & BeyondBrooksville: Small Town, USA Grows Up

Brooksville: Small Town, USA Grows Up

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When I moved to Hernando County in 1986, Brooksville really was Small Town USA. With a population of around 6,500 back then, there was just one movie theatre and no chain restaurants. The bowling alley and skating rink were just about the only places young people could hang out, while many adults favored Miss Kitty’s Hilltop Lounge, a bar with a not-so-good reputation. Some people who were there said its reputation was undeserved and exaggerated.

Brooksville now has a population of 9,500 people, according to worldpopulationreview.com. It’s still a small town, relatively speaking, but thanks to growth in the unincorporated area of Spring Hill, there are now dozens of restaurants, two movie theatres, and a YMCA, among other amenities. And Brooksville, itself, has become a thriving community, thanks to some civic-minded leaders from churches, businesses, non-profit organizations, as well as just ordinary citizens.

Many of these people make up Brooksville Main Street and Brooksville Matters and meet the first Wednesday of every month to discuss upcoming projects, past successes, and ways to improve the city in general. At their recent meeting held June 7th at The Bistro on South Main Street, the guest speaker was David Howard, the new director of the Parks and Recreation Department.

Howard spoke about the improvements and additions he and his staff are making to the department and some of his goals. The main point he emphasized was that the Parks and Rec department is no longer going to be just fun and games and enjoying the outdoors, as its name implies. He wants to expand the scope of his department in the area of social and economic needs, cultural development, and educational initiatives for people of all ages, all walks of life, and all demographic groups.

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“Our primary goals are to serve the needs of our community, offer top-notch programs, and maximize community involvement,” Howard stated.

In the seven months since the 33-year-old director has been in this position, Howard has already achieved some of these goals. He mentioned some of the organizations that are partnering with his department on this mission, such as the Hernando Arts Council. Howard remarked the goal is to ensure that if you live in Brooksville, you won’t have to travel to any of the surrounding cities to enjoy a quality of life. He believes you should be able to enjoy that, at a certain level,
in your own town. Howard also wants to encourage more people to visit Brooksville.

“This creates a better quality of life for individuals and also helps the businesses because when you have more people come to the town, you’ll have more people who visit these local businesses.”

One event coming up this summer will be a Back-to-School Bash in August at Tom Varn Park. The free event will include free haircuts for the kids, backpacks filled with school supplies, vendors, and free food and games. If you want to participate as a sponsor or a vendor in this event, the deadline is July 6th. You can contact Howard at the Parks and Recreation Department:
[email protected] or call 352-540-3830.

Two projects are in the works for next year. One is a splash pad, and the other is a dog park. The Kiwanis Club of Brooksville is partnering with Parks and Rec on the splash pad.

The Parks and Recreation Department will be collaborating with other organizations on the popular Blueberry Festival. The department also works closely with Brooksville Main Street on events and ways to better the city.

“Any city that invests in sports and tourism sees an increase in business production. Businesses do well when there are festivals like the Blueberry Festival and other events put on,” Howard added.

An ultimate goal for Howard is to make activities and resources more inclusive. Many people in certain areas, such as South Brooksville, don’t have easy access to a park. He wants to change that. Another goal is to make Brooksville a vibrant city for all people, whether they’re newcomers or native Brooksvillians.

“I want to embody that small-town feeling of history and family-friendly values. I want to make a mutually beneficial partnership between my department and the local business.”

For more information on the Brooksville Parks and Recreation Department, go to: https://www.cityofbrooksville.us/232/Parks-Recreation. You can follow their activities on their Facebook page: The City of Brooksville Parks & Recreation.

Speaking of partnerships, that’s what Brooksville Matters and Brooksville Main Street are all about.

Natalie Kahler, Executive Director of Brooksville Main Street, chaired the meeting earlier this month. Like Howard, she has expanded the scope of this organization. In fact, their motto is: Bringing Economic Vitality to downtown Brooksville in cooperation with the City of Brooksville, Hernando County, and loads of volunteers.

Approximately twenty people attended the meeting. Introductions were made along with a brief summary of what their organization is doing. These ranged from historical events sponsored by the Historic Hernando Preservation Society to environmental activities, such as Adopt-a-Spot, sponsored by the Beautification Board.

Many of these organizations are looking for volunteers, so if you’re interested in any of these activities or events, call 352-540-6409 or go to: www.welovebvl.org. For up-to-date information, Like their Facebook page: “Brooksville Main Street.”

Editor’s Note: The organization assisting the city with the splash pad was corrected to Kiwanis Club of Brooksville. We apologize for this error.

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