CORAL SPRINGS, FL – Standing on a recently cut grass field in Coral Springs where he envisions building a surf park, Anthony Brown is reminded of what was in the same spot some 50 years ago.
“This was all swampland,” said Brown, 55, who grew up a few miles away. “We’d go riding our dirt bikes here, and we’d hunt and fish. Back then, there was nothing out here. It was great.”
The charismatic, guitar-playing environmental entrepreneur who hopes to build a surf park featuring “the perfect wave” across from Coral Springs Aquatic Complex on Royal Palm Boulevard spent much of his early life in Coral Springs.
Growing up just off what is now Sample Road in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he had a front-row view as the city slowly changed from a Florida backwater to one of the largest municipalities in Broward County.
His childhood experiences of roaming through the wilderness of early Coral Springs shaped his interest in the environment as he went on to live in the mid-western states and work for and eventually start companies revolving around environmental remediation.
Skilled in hydrodynamics and chemistry, Brown happened to flip through a Popular Mechanics magazine in 2008 and saw a story about wave pool technology.
Something in him clicked, he said, as he read about the prospect of creating just the right wave in a pool.
“I knew this was something I wanted to do,” he said.
Brown returned to South Florida, in 2003, to work on projects and, in 2015, started his company, Ocean Sports Development, which has an exclusive licensing and patented design called Webber Wave Pool to create waves for all levels of training and competition.
The company hopes to build surf parks across the nation and create a competitive surfing league at those facilities.
Last week, Coral Springs commissioners gave the go-ahead for city staff to begin formal discussions with Brown and his team to build the $20 million facility.
The project isn’t going to require the city to shell out any money, he said.
Brown said the surf park is expected to bring in more than 100,000 surfers and fans into the city annually.
For Brown, building his company’s first surf pool in his hometown is, well, a dream come true.
“This would be a realization of my life’s work and learning,” he said.
Now living in Boynton Beach with his wife and family, he visits Coral Springs regularly to see old friends and, of course, check on the status of his project.
As he drives down Coral Springs streets today, he still remembers his old life, when Sample Road was a landing strip for crop dusters.
“Coral Springs was a great place growing up and it still is,” he said. “I want this project to make a difference for the city, especially for the kids.”
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