Oldsmar names Environmental Education Center in honor of Lynn Rives

Lynn Rives stands in front of the new sign bearing his name that hangs on the Environmental Education Center at the Mobbly Bayou Wilderness Preserve.

For nearly 20 years, Lynn Rives served as Oldsmar’s leisure services director, where he was responsible for such projects as the creation of Canal Park and its renovated Supercross track, the growth of Oldsmar’s expansive parks and trails system, and the construction of the Environmental Education Center at Mobbly Bayou Preserve .

Despite his extensive list of accomplishments, officials rejected a request by City Council member Jerry Beverland to name a city facility in Rives’ honor prior to his retirement last March, a decision that sat just fine with the designated honoree.

“I told (Jerry) I really wasn’t interested in it anyway,” Rives said in January of 2017.

“Actually, what I really said was, ‘I’m not dead yet!’”

Flash-forward a year and Rives is still alive and well; in fact, he’s currently serving as the City Manager of his hometown, Belleair Beach.

However, after being gone for 12 months, Oldsmar officials decided the time was right to officially name the center after Rives.

The City of Oldsmar dedicated the Environmental Education Center at Mobbly Bayou Preserve in honor of longtime Leisure Services Director Lynn Rives, who retired in 2017 after nearly 20 years with the city.

“The City of Oldsmar likes to consider ourselves on the leading edge where we name things after people before they pass away,” City Manager Al Braithwaite joked to open the dedication ceremony on Monday, Mar. 12.

Braithwaite then handed the microphone to Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis who listed several notable accomplishments from Rives’ tenure, which began in September 1999, including: opening the original Oldsmar BMX track and converting it into an Olympic-caliber Supercross facility; developing Richard Rogers Park, the Cypress Forest Recreation Center and Veterans Memorial Park; and opening Mobbly Bayou Wilderness Preserve, which includes a dog park, a zipline aerial adventure park and the Environmental Education Center.

“This building was erected in 2016 under his supervision and includes a solar panel on the roof that helped achieve one of the many council priorities he was given,” Bevis said of the facility, which he called “a major undertaking” that included hoisting the hefty wooden beams that support the roof into place.

Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis notes the heavy wooden beams that make up the Environmental Education Center ceiling during the facility’s dedication ceremony in Lynn Rives’ honor on Monday, Mar. 12, 2018.

“Probably with the exception of the concrete work and the beams being set in here, our city staff did this entire project. So congratulations to Lynn and his staff for pulling that off.

Bevis concluded by saying “thank you to Lynn for the numerous other projects he spearheaded to help put our city on the map where it is today” before he directed the group to the front of the facility for the unveiling of the sign.

Following the reveal, Rives spoke about receiving the (slightly delayed) honor.

“I’m very happy. It’s a very nice thing to do and I really appreciate it,” he told Oldsmar Connect.

“Oldsmar was very good to me and I can’t say enough about the city and the people I worked with. I’ll always have Oldsmar in my heart. It’s a great city.”

Oldsmar officials dodge flying metal clips during the unveiling of the sign dedicating the Lynn Rives Environmental Education Center on Monday, Mar. 12, 2018.

Despite his initial reluctance to have something named after him, Rives admitted it was special to see his name on this facility.

“It’s kinda neat because of the fact that the city staff, the parks staff, built it,” he said. “Those people were here every day of the week working on this project and they should be able to share in this.”

Braithwaite and Rives’ successor, Felicia Donnelly, also commented after the ceremony.

“He is an amazing go-getter,” Braithwaite, who started his career with the city at the same time as Rives, said. “I’ve never seen anyone who gets things done as well as he does.

“He acquired more than $10 million in grants for us, which made a huge difference in our ability to do stuff. He did it. He just gets stuff done.”

Donnelly, who was recently named Assistant City Manager/Economic Development Director, added “throughout Lynn’s tenure, much of the city’s park system was developed.”

“It was an honor to follow a director with a legacy like Lynn’s.”

Related content:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *