Art of Community Project Transforms Beach-Access Tunnel

February 14, 2019

Dolphins, manatee and schools of fish now offer safe passage – and a prime selfie destination – for beachgoers at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale.

A new under-the-sea mural has transformed the park’s formerly drab and graffiti-marred beach access tunnel under A1A into an artistic attraction.

A $20,000 grant made possible by Fundholders at the Community Foundation of Broward paid for cleaning up the 70-year-old tunnel and turning its walls into an underwater tableau.

“We are so thrilled. The Community Foundation has been amazing,” Gale Butler, Friends of Birch State Park executive director, said at the Feb. 1 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the refurbished tunnel.

Hurricane Irma swamped the tunnel with so much water and sand that park officials kept it closed after the 2017 storm.

During 2018, park volunteers swept, scraped and scrubbed the tunnel. Artist Todd Michael Hanna designed the mural and more community volunteers helped paint the under-the-sea display that now covers the tunnel.

Eight months after the cleanup began, the tunnel will soon reopen to beachgoers.

The mural project is part of the Community Foundation’s ongoing Art of Community initiative – philanthropy that uses the arts to ignite creativity, invoke community pride and connect people to where they live and to each other.

“We loved this project because it was really a transformational idea,” said Angelica Rosas, the Community Foundation’s grants manager. “It is now a destination spot.”

Support for the Birch State Park tunnel mural has been provided by the following Funds of the Community Foundation of Broward:
Katz Family Fund
Harold D. Franks Fund
Mary and Alex Mackenzie Community Impact Fund

These Fundholders, through their enduring philanthropy, use the arts to unite the community they loved, Foundation CEO and President Linda Carter said.

Their gifts continue to support projects that “make the community smile,” she said.

“We are continuing their legacy and doing what they wanted us to do,” Carter said. “This is the kind of work that Community Foundation Fundholders are doing all the time.”

To learn how you can support Art of Community projects like this with a charitable Fund for Broward, contact Vice President of Philanthropic Services Nancy Thies at or 954-761-9503.

Art of Community

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